CDAA Position Statement – Family Violence

Canadian Dental Assistants Association



Family Violence

The Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) believes that violence is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any form.  CDAA further asserts that dental assistants in Canada assume a “zero tolerance” approach toward family violence and recognizes the economic and social implications of family violence on Canadians.

The CDAA supports the:

  • Efforts of the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial governments initiatives and strategies to increase awareness and assist in the prevention of family violence, including but not limited to:  the promotion and support of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and their caregivers; gender equality for women and girls and relationship and conflict resolution strategies for youth.
  • Efforts of oral health professionals, including dental assistants, who identify, intervene sensitively and come to the aid of a victim of family violence.

The CDAA recommends the following:

  • Provide education and training to dental assistants in an effort to prevent, identify, intervene and rehabilitate patients who are at risk for, have been exposed to, or suffer, family violence.
  • All dental assistants be trained to identify and assess for the indicators of family violence.
  • Dental assistants assist, wherever and whenever possible in the development and implementation of practices and protocols to address family violence within their workplace.
  • Dental assistants have knowledge of the available resources in their community that assist in the prevention, identification, and intervention needs related to family violence.
  • Dental Assistants have knowledge of the available resources in their community to support them through the process of reporting family violence.


The Public Health Agency of Canada defines family violence as any form of abuse or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.  It is an abuse of power by one person to hurt and control someone who trusts and depends on them. (Zhang, 2012)

Common forms of family violence include: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psycho-social abuse, financial abuse, neglect

All members of Canadian society are impacted by family violence – directly or indirectly.  Family violence occurs in all types of Canadian families and relationships and does not discriminate.  It can affect anyone, no matter their age, level of education, race, religion, sexual orientation, or where they reside.

In 2012, it was estimated that costs related to family violence in Canada total $7.4 billion, of which $6 billion reported in victim costs (pain and suffering, counseling, and legal fees), $811 million in 3rd party costs (families and social services), $545 million in criminal and civil justice costs (police, courts and correction services) and $79 million in costs to employers, including productivity and administrative costs (Zhang, 2012). Costs related to family violence show an increasing trend with costs estimated at $4.23 billion in 1995 (Greaves, 1995) to $6.9 billion in 2011. (Varcoe, 2011).

In a 2014 study (McAndrew, 2014) published in the United States Journal of Dental Education, researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry found that the online tutorial they developed on domestic violence was found to be effective in increasing senior dental students’ perceived preparation, perceived and actual knowledge, and self-efficacy in their professional careers  in addressing this issue.  As well, a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, (Danley, 2004) concluded that an engaging, interactive tutorial demonstrating a simple model for ways oral health professionals can recognize and respond to domestic violence, significantly improved dental students’ knowledge of, and attitudes toward domestic violence. As and integral member of the oral health team and as the team member who is regularly the first to interact with patients, dental assistants are often uniquely positioned to be the first to detect violence, provide support, initiate an intervention and rally the oral health team into action, in order to address a patient’s particular situation.  Providing education and direction for dental assistants on family violence is therefore critical to improving the care they and their team provide to their patients.


Zhang, T., Hoddenbagh, J., McDonald, S., and Scrim, K. (2012).  “An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Spousal Violence in Canada”, 2009, Department of Justice Canada. Ottawa.

Varcoe, C., Hankivsky, O., Ford-Gilboe, M., Wuest, J., Wilk, P., Hammerton, J., and Campbell, J. (2011).  “Attributing selected costs to intimate partner violence in a sample of women who have left abusive partners:  A social determinants of health approach.”  Canadian Public Policy – Analyse de politiques, vol. 37(3): 1-21

McAndrew, M., Gaelle, C.P., Kojanis, L.C. (2014).  “Effectiveness of an Online Tutorial on Intimate Partner Violence for Dental Students: A Pilot Study.”   Journal of Dental Education, vol. 78, (8): 1176-1181

Danley, D., Gansky, S.A., Chow, D., Gerbert, B., (2004) “Preparing dental students to recognize and respond to domestic violence.”  Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 135(1): 67-73