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Polyvictimization: Children's Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse (NCJ 235504) October 2011
OJJDP National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence Series
12 page(s)
David Finkelhor, Heather Turner, Sherry Hamby and Richard Ormrod
Presents the findings of the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) regarding children's direct exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse, also known as polyvictimization. Children and youth who are exposed to multiple types of violence are at particularly high risk for lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm, even compared with children who experience repeated exposures to a single type of violence. Among the key findings: 8 percent of all youth in the nationally representative NatSCEV sample had seven or more different kinds of exposures to violence, crime, and abuse in the past year. These youth also had a disproportionate share of the most serious kinds of victimizations, such as sexual victimization and parental maltreatment. Polyvictimization was most likely to start near the beginning of grade school and the beginning of high school and tended to persist over time. It was associated with a cluster of four prior circumstances or pathways: living in a violent family, living in a distressed and chaotic family, living in a violent neighborhood, and having preexisting psychological symptoms. In addition, polyvictims are overrepresented among certain demographic groups, including boys, African American children, and children in single-parent, stepparent, and other adult caregiver families. This is the third in a series of bulletins that present findings from NatSCEV, the most comprehensive nationwide survey to date of the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence across all ages, settings, and timeframes.