New poll: Two thirds of parents are concerned that their children have missed opportunities to build vital healthy relationship skills   

Canadian Women’s Foundation flags gaps during the pandemic and responds by supporting critical community programming as students head back to school 

Toronto, ON – August 23, 2021 – A national poll conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation identifies concerns about gaps in vital social and healthy relationship skills as students aged 9 to 19 head back to school in September. 

Sixty-seven per cent of girls’ parents and 61 per cent of boys’ parents are concerned that their children missed out on building healthy conflict resolution skills during the pandemic.  

Sixty-six per cent of girls’ parents are concerned that they have missed out on important opportunities to build confidence during the pandemic. Sixty-five per cent are concerned that girls have missed out on developing a sense of belonging with peers. 

Only 38 per cent of girls’ parents and 45 per cent of boys’ parents are very confident that their children will have opportunities to catch up on building healthy conflict resolution skills post-pandemic. 

“The importance of healthy relationship skills for diverse children and youth of all genders can’t be overestimated, and parents have every right to be concerned,” says Andrea Gunraj, Vice President of Public Engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “They are key to reducing Canada’s high rates of gender-based violence, such as intimate partner and sexual violence. The risk of this abuse has only grown during the pandemic.” 

Just as students need strong math and literacy skills, healthy relationship skills are core to child and youth development. Confidence-building and community connection are particularly important for diverse girls and non-binary youth, especially at ages 9 to 13 when their mental health and confidence drops.  

As a response to these often hidden pandemic impacts, the Canadian Women’s Foundation is shining a spotlight on community-based Girls’ Empowerment and Teen Healthy Relationship programs, which will run in parallel to the school year. 

“These programs do what’s missed elsewhere,” says Gunraj. “They offer safe environments to talk through issues like consent. They enable girls and non-binary youth to have space just for themselves and to connect to Elders and peers. This has a very real impact in countering the ways control and love get confused and in challenging discriminations that hold girls and young people back. It is so vital we get this right, and we do it right now.”   

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is accepting donations to fund Girls’ Empowerment and Teen Healthy Relationship Programs. Support  Got Your Back  to help ensure these community-based programs are there for girls and gender-diverse young people in every region of Canada.    



Released by Maru Public Opinion, this research was conducted by Maru/Matchbox who used its panel and data services provider Maru/Blue to survey a randomly selected sample of 194 parents and caregivers (referred to as “parents” within this press release) on July 25th, 2021 who are members of its Voice Canada online panel, and then weighted the results to be nationally representative. The detailed findings are at: