Skip to main content Accessibility help

Polyvictimization and trauma in a national longitudinal cohort


This paper utilizes a national longitudinal probability sample of children to demonstrate how important exposure to multiple forms of victimization (polyvictimization) is in accounting for increases in children's symptomatic behavior. The study is based on two annual waves of the Developmental Victimization Survey that began with a nationally representative sample of children and youth ages 2 to 17. A broad range of victimization experiences were assessed using the 34-item Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Eighteen percent of the children experienced four or more different kinds of victimization (polyvictims) in the most recent year. Polyvictimization in the most recent year was highly predictive of trauma symptoms at the end of the year, controlling for prior victimization and prior mental health status. When polyvictimization was taken into account, it greatly reduced or eliminated the association between most other individual victimizations and symptomatology scores.For the purposes of compliance with Section 507 of PL 104-208 (the “Stevens Amendment”), readers are advised that 100% of the funds for this program are derived from federal sources (US Department of Justice). The total amount of federal funding involved is $353,233.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: David Finkelhor, Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, 126 Horton Social Science Center, 20 College Road, Durham, NH 03824; E-mail:
Hide All


Avery-Leaf, S., Cascardi, M., O'Leary, K. D., & Cano, A. (1997). Efficacy of a dating violence prevention program on attitudes justifying aggression. Journal of Adolescent Health, 21, 1117.
Bajos, N., Spira, A., Ducot, B., & Messiah, A. (1992). Analysis of sexual behavior in France (ACSF): A comparison between two modes of investigation: Telephone survey and face-to-face survey. AIDS, 6, 315323.
Bermack, E. (1989). Effects of telephone & face-to-face communication on rated extent of self-disclosure by female college students. Psychological Reports, 65, 259267.
Boney-McCoy, S., & Finkelhor, D. (1996). Is youth victimization related to trauma symptoms and depression after controlling for prior symptoms and family relationships? A longitudinal, prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 14061416.
Bower, B. (1985). Multiple drug use: A dangerous trend. Science News, 128, 6.
Briere, J. (1996). Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children (TSCC): Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Briere, J., Johnson, K., Bissada, A., Damon, L., Crouch, J., Gil, E., et al. (2001). The Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC): Reliability and association with abuse exposure in a multi-site study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 25, 10011014.
Browning, C. R., & Laumann, E. O. (1995). Sexual contact between children and adults: Tracking the long-term effects. American Sociological Review, 62, 540561.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. (various years). National crime victimization survey. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
Burgess, A. W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1975). Rape: Victims of crisis. Bowie, MD: R.J. Brady Co.
Cicchetti, D., & Lynch, M. (1993). Toward an ecological/transactional model of community violence and child maltreatment: Consequences for children's development. Psychiatry, 56, 96118.
Clausen, A. H., & Crittenden, P. M. (1991). Physical and psychological maltreatment: Relations among types of maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect, 15, 518.
Cohen, J. A., & Mannarino, A. P. (1997). A treatment study for sexually abused preschool children: Outcome during a one-year follow-up. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 12281235.
Cohen, J. A., & Mannarino, A. P. (1998). Interventions for sexually abused children: Initial treatment outcome findings. Child Maltreatment, 3, 1726.
Cuevas, C., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H. A., & Ormrod, R. K. (in press). Juvenile delinquency and victimization: A theoretical typology. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Curtin, R., Presser, S., & Singer, E. (2005). Changes in telephone survey nonresponse over the past quarter century. Public Opinion Quarterly, 69, 8798.
Czaja, R. (1987). Asking sensitive behavioral questions in telephone interviews. International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 8, 2332.
Downer, A. (1986). Evaluation of talking about touching. Seattle, WA: Committee for Children.
Duncan, R. D. (1999a). Maltreatment by parents and peers: The relationship between child abuse, bully victimization, and psychological distress. Child Maltreatment, 4, 4555.
Duncan, R. D. (1999b). Peer and sibling aggression: An investigation of intra- and extra-familial bullying. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 871886.
Finkelhor, D. (1988). The trauma of child sexual abuse: Two models. In G. Wyatt (Ed.), The lasting effects of child sexual abuse. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Finkelhor, D., Hamby, S. L., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (2005a). The JVQ: Reliability, validity, and national norms. Child Abuse and Neglect, 29, 383412.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (in press-a). Poly-victimization: A neglected component in child victimization trauma. Child Abuse and Neglect.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (in press-b). Revictimization patterns in a national longitudinal sample of children and youth. Child Abuse and Neglect.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., Turner, H. A., & Hamby, S. L. (2005b). Measuring polyvictimization using the JVQ. Child Abuse and Neglect, 29, 12971312.
Graham-Bermann, S. A., & Hughes, H. M. (2003). Intervention for children exposed to interparental violence (IPV): Assessment of needs and research priorities. Clinical Child and Family Psychological Review, 6, 189204.
Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (2004a). The Comprehensive Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire.
Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (2004b). The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ): Administration and scoring manual. Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center.
Hausman, A. J., Spivak, H., Prothrow-Stith, D., & Roeber, J. (1992). Pattern of teen exposure to a community-based violence prevention project. Journal of Adolescent Health, 13, 668675.
Holmbeck, G. N. (2002). Post-hoc probing of significant moderational and mediational effects in studies of pediatric populations. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 27, 8796.
Kaufman, E. (1977). Polydrug abuse or multidrug misuse: It's here to stay. British Journal of Addiction, 72, 339348.
Keeter, S., Miller, C., Kohut, A., Groves, R. M., & Presser, S. (2000). Consequences of reducing nonresponse in a national telephone survey. Public Opinion Quarterly, 64, 125148.
Lauritsen, J. L., & Quinet, K. F. D. (1995). Repeat victimization among adolescents and young adults. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 11, 143166.
Lavoie, F., Vezina, L., Piche, C., & Boivin, M. (1995). Evaluation of a prevention program for violence in teen dating relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 516524.
Lynch, M., & Cicchetti, D. (1998). An ecological transactional analysis of children and contexts: The longitudinal interplay among child maltreatment, community violence, and children's symptomatology. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 235257.
Macgowan, M. (1997). An evaluation of a dating violence prevention program for middle school students. Violence and Victims, 12, 223235.
Mannarino, A. P., & Cohen, J. A. (1996). Abuse-related attributions and perceptions, general attributions, and locus of control in sexually abused girls. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 11, 162180.
Marin, G., & Marin, B. (1989). A comparison of three interviewing approaches for studying sensitive topics with Hispanics. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 11, 330340.
Messman, T. L., & Long, P. J. (2000). Child sexual abuse and revictimization in the form of adult sexual abuse, adult physical abuse, and adult psychological maltreatment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15, 489502.
Nishina, A., & Juvonen, J. (2005). Daily reports of witnessing and experiencing peer harassment in middle school. Child Development, 76, 435450.
Noll, J. G., Horowitz, L. A., Bonanno, G. A., Trickett, P. K., & Putnam, F. W. (2003). Revictimization and self-harm in females who experienced childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18, 14521471.
Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/victim problems among schoolchildren: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (Vol. xvii, pp. 411448). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Outlaw, M., Ruback, B., & Britt, C. (2002). Repeat and multiple victimizations: The role of individual and contextual factors. Violence and Victims, 17, 187204.
Overstreet, S., & Mazza, J. (2003). An ecological-transactional understanding of community violence: Theoretical Perspectives. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 6687.
Perry, D. G., Hodges, E. V. E., & Egan, S. K. (2001). Determinants of chronic victimization by peers: A review and new model of family influence. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 73104). New York: Guilford Press.
Rutter, M. (1983). Statistical and personal interactions: Facets and perspectives. In D. Magnusson & V. Allen (Eds.), Human development: An interactional perspective (pp. 295319). New York: Academic Press.
Sacks, S. (2003). Co-occurring substance use and mental disorders in offenders: Approaches, findings, and recommendations. Federal Probation, 67, 3240.
Saunders, B. E. (2003). Understanding children exposed to violence: Toward an integration of overlapping fields. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18, 356376.
Scott, K. L., Wolfe, D. A., & Wekerle, C. (2003). Maltreatment and trauma: Tracking the connections in adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, 211230.
Tseloni, A., & Pease, K. (2003). Repeat personal victimization: “boosts” or “flags”? British Journal of Criminology, 43, 196212.
Weeks, M. F., Kulka, R. A., Lessler, J. T., & Whitmore, R. W. (1983). Personal versus telephone surveys from collecting household health data at the local level. American Journal of Public Health, 73, 13891394.
Wurtele, S. K., Kast, L. C., & Melzer, A. M. (1992). Sexual abuse prevention education for young children: A comparison of teachers and parents as instructors. Child Abuse and Neglect, 16, 865876.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed