Family Violence

Online Resources for Teachers


The following materials are intended to help teachers gain a greater understanding of family violence, how it affects them and their students, and the legal implications, including reporting. Ways to help students who may be victims of child abuse or family violence are also offered.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In 2012, Parliament passed Bill C-10, which introduced some changes to laws affecting youth, such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The materials on this site are currently being revised to reflect these legislative changes, and the updated versions will be posted as they are completed. In the meantime, please note that some documents may contain some outdated information. To see a summary of the changes to the YCJA, please refer to this page on the Parliament of Canada website.


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NEW ACTIVITY – Kyle’s Choice: An Interactive Fiction Game About the YCJA


(Intended For: Teachers) This document defines family violence, and the types of abuse that can happen to a child or between domestic partners. It also provides explanations of legal definitions, and discusses the scope of the problem.

(Intended For: Teachers) This document defines family violence, and the types of abuse that can happen to a child, or between domestic partners. It also provides explanations of legal definitions, and discusses the scope of the problem.

(Intended For: Teachers) This document provides encouragement and advice if your own relationship may be abusive.

(Intended For: Teachers) This document offers advice and guidance to educators and others who suspect someone they know is in an abusive relationship, and outlines the consequences of non-reporting of child abuse.

(Intended For: Teachers, General Public) This document offers educators a list of signs & symptoms of child abuse. It outlines tell-tale differences between abusive and non-inflicted injuries, gives a guide to interpreting sexualized behaviour in children, and offers perspectives on differing views of physical punishment. At the end of the document…

(Intended For: Teachers) This document details what educators should do if they suspect child abuse. This includes an outline of what the law says about reporting including the “duty to report”, how educators have traditionally responded, and a disclosure checklist to use should you need to contact child protection. Directions for…

(Intended For: Teachers) This document describes the cycle of violence, and how abusive environments harm children now and in their futures. It also offers some advice to educators on how to talk to a child when a parent is convicted of domestic violence.

(Intended For: Teachers) This document offers concrete suggestions for actions to be taken by educators, men, and all citizens to prevent family violence. It also lists contact information for organizations, and resources such as books and services available to educators and victims of family violence.


The following links are to external resources that teachers may find useful for lesson plan source material, student exploration and expansion of personal knowledge on this topic. Please contact us to report any broken links.


  • These external links are provided as a convenience for our visitors. While we try to make sure they are current and accurate, the John Howard Society of Alberta is not responsible for them, or the currency,  accuracy or quality of the information they contain.
  • Any links marked with a strikethrough (like this) have been automatically marked as broken and will be fixed eventually. If you have an updated link for a broken one, please let us know.

Department of Justice Canada – Family Violence Initiative
Information for specific age groups of youth: ages 10-12 and age 13 and older.

Family Violence Prevention (Alberta Government site)

Family Violence Resource Guide from the Government of Alberta (PDF)
Links within this document go to other PDFs on various topics around family violence.

Government of Alberta Children and Youth Services

Alliance to End Violence (Calgary – formerly Action Committee Against Violence)
“The Alliance to End Violence is Calgary’s resource centre for family and sexual violence. We work with more than 50 community partners to enhance services for victims of interpersonal violence.”

Community Initiatives Against Family Violence (Edmonton)
“… a dynamic, voluntary, Edmonton initiative comprised of government, not-for-profit agencies and individuals working towards a collaborative, coordinated community response to family violence and bullying.”

Alberta Council Of Women’s Shelters
“… a province-wide, voluntary organization supporting women’s shelters and their partners through education, research and services for the benefit of abused women and their children.”

VIOLET: Law and Abused Women
“In this site you will find legal information that may help you if you are experiencing violence in an intimate relationship.”

(Website currently unavailable.) Connects abused women to shelters. The site is available in 9 languages, and includes information for teens and children.

Bursting The Bubble
“This website helps you to work out what’s okay in a family and what’s not. It tells you what you can do if someone in your family is hurting or abusing you or another member of your family.”

Springtide Resources
“promotes healthy and equal relationships by engaging diverse communities in shared educational strategies designed to prevent violence against women and the effect it has on children.”

National Clearinghouse On Family Violence
“The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV) is a one-stop source for information on violence and abuse within the family. It operates on behalf of the 15 partner departments, agencies and Crown corporations of the federal Family Violence Initiative.”

Hot Peach Pages
An international list of domestic violence and abuse agencies and abuse info in over 75 languages.

Research And Education Of Solutions To Violence And Abuse
“RESOLVE is a prairie-based research network that co-ordinates and supports research aimed at ending violence, especially violence involving girls and women. RESOLVE is committed to supporting research that leads to positive results. Our work seeks to uncover the causes of violence and map out effective strategies to prevent and alleviate that violence. With offices in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, RESOLVE creates partnerships among service agencies, government departments and universities across the prairie provinces.”

Centre For Children And Families In The Justice System (London, ON)
“…a non-profit social service agency helping children and families involved with the justice system as victims of crime, witnesses of crime, parties in custody disputes, subjects of child protection proceedings, litigants in civil suits for compensation, teenagers in therapeutic care settings, or youthful offenders. We are known especially for our grounded approach to understanding and helping children exposed to domestic violence.”

Minnesota Centre Against Violence And Abuse
Home of the MINCAVA electronic clearinghouse of documents on the subject of violence and abuse.

Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
“… a network of Albertans dedicated to increasing awareness and supporting a community response to elder abuse. Canada’s fastest growing population is over the age of 65 and rapidly becoming vulnerable to abuse that can rob them of their well-being, dignity and, horrifyingly, their lives.”

Elder Abuse Intervention Team (Edmonton Police Service)
“… a collaboration of the Edmonton Police Service, The City of Edmonton Community Services, Catholic Social Services and Victorian Order of Nurses. Our mission is to prevent and respond to elder abuse by working in partnership with the community, thereby enhancing the well being of older adults.”

Elder Abuse Information – Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE)

Learning and Violence
“The site is one step towards a long held dream of a virtual international institute for research and innovative practice to understand and address the impact of violence on learning. The vision was germinated by Jenny Horsman with the help of Elizabeth Morrish and Judy Hofer and incubated in discussions with educators and researchers from many different countries.”

The Support Network
“Anyone, anytime, can find themselves facing a crisis. Depression, loneliness, work-stress, addiction, relationship problems, or worrying about someone else can all leave us feeling helpless, hopeless, and overwhelmed. Sometimes a supportive network of family and friends is enough to prevent a crisis from escalating. But what about those who have no support? Or whose problems are too complex for the people around them to handle? The Support Network is here to listen when life hurts. It’s a safe place to be heard, sort out thoughts and feelings, and begin exploring  options to get help.”

Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal
Includes access to numerous epidemiological studies on child abuse and neglect.

ChildTrauma Academy
“A not-for-profit organization, based in Houston, Texas, working to improve the lives of high-risk children through direct service, research and education. We recognize the crucial importance of childhood experience in shaping the health of the individual, and ultimately, society.  By creating  biologically-informed child and family respectful practice, programs and policy, The ChildTrauma Academy seeks to help maltreated and traumatized children.”

A Violence Prevention Approach
“Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., is an internationally-recognized authority on children in crisis. Dr. Perry is the Provincial Medical Director in Children’s Mental Health for the Alberta Mental Health Board. In addition, he is the Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy (, a Houston-based organization dedicated to research and education on child maltreatment. Dr. Perry has been consulted on many high-profile incidents involving traumatized children, including the Columbine, Colorado school shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Branch Davidian siege.” Numerous articles by Dr. Perry are available here, as well as a link to a companion site,, which offers free online courses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a question you would like to ask one of our criminal justice educators about this topic, feel free to contact us. Click the question to expand the answer below it.

Whose responsibility is it to report suspected child abuse?
Anyone who becomes aware of a child abuse situation is required to make a report to the police or a Children’s Services caseworker. It is mandatory for ALL school personnel to report every situation where it is believed a child has been, or is at risk of being, neglected or abused. The obligation to report is not fulfilled until the individual has reported directly to a Children’s Services caseworker. No person needs permission from a principal or administrator before reporting, nor may anyone direct someone not to report.


Are schools required to allow the investigating team on the school premises to interview a child?
School personnel are expect to cooperate when an investigating team asks to interview a child on school premises. If appropriate, the team will give the principal advance notice of the need to visit the school and conduct the interview on the premises. The interview must be conducted in a way that minimizes school activity disruption.


Should the administrator or other school personnel sit in on the interview?
Interviews should be conducted in private unless a child specifically asks someone to stay for support. A principal may ask if the child would like someone present, but should respect the child’s answer. No school policy can require a school member to be present during the interview.


Whose responsibility is it to notify the child's parents of the interview? When should this occur?
The investigating team is responsible for deciding when to notify parents or guardians. If a child is held after school hours, the investigating team informs the parents/guardians of the child’s whereabouts and takes the child home if necessary. The school should NOT notify the parents/guardians prior to the interview or request interview permission.


Do Children's Services caseworkers have ongoing access to a child at school?
The Children’s Services casework considers the needs of both the student and the school when considering access issues. Generally, Children’s Services caseworkers are not to use school premises for ongoing case interviews. If a worker needs access to a student during school hours, appropriate arrangements will be made after discussing the situation with the principal.


What is the most common type of maltreatment?
Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment. According to the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, in 2003 the most common forms of confirmed child abuse in Canada were:

  • 30% Neglect
  • 28% Exposure to violence
  • 24% Physical abuse
  • 15% Emotional abuse
  • 3% Sexual abuse


Who are the child victims?
According to a 2002 study, more children under five live in an environment with domestic violence than any other age group in Canada. A U.S. study from 1997 showed that more than half of children confirmed as victims were 7 years old or younger, and one-quarter were younger than 4 years old. The same study showed that 22% of victims were aged 8 to 11, 25% were youth aged 12 to 18. A great proportion of neglect and medical neglect victims were children younger than 8, while a greater proportion of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse victims were aged 8 or older.


Once a disclosure has been made, what signs in the child victim should I watch for in order to understand how the child is coping with the trauma?
Each child will respond differently to the trauma that has occurred. Caregivers can expect a variety of reactions from virtually no change in habits or behaviour to extreme differences.


Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Sourcebook, edited by Helene Henderson. Omnigraphics, 2000.
Family Violence: It’s your Business. Community Resource Guide, Government of Alberta.