Prevalence and correlates of multiple victimization in a nation-wide adolescent sample.

Child abuse & neglect

PubMedID: 21816473

Romano E, Bell T, Billette JM. Prevalence and correlates of multiple victimization in a nation-wide adolescent sample. Child Abuse Negl. 2011;35(7):468-79.
Adolescents often experience different types of victimization across a specified period of time in different situations. These multiple victimization experiences can have a number of deleterious effects on psychosocial well-being. To expand on research gathered primarily from US samples, the current study estimated the prevalence of multiple victimization in a nationally representative sample of Canadian adolescents. We also expanded on past research by adopting an ecological approach to identify correlates of multiple victimization.

Cross-sectional data from the 2000-2001 cycle of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) were used to estimate the prevalence of multiple victimization (verbal harassment, threat of and actual physical assault, school social exclusion, discrimination) in 1,036 13-16 year olds. We also examined household (e.g., parental education), family (e.g., parenting practices), and adolescent (e.g., friendship quality) correlates of multiple victimization for the whole sample and separately by sex.

Among the 6 in 10 adolescents who reported at least 1 victimization experience, 30.5% reported 2 types of victimization whereas 23.7% reported 3 or more types. There was an increased probability of multiple victimization (2 or more types) in adolescents who reported greater parental rejection, who engaged in more frequent out-of-school activities, and who experienced non-victimization adversity. The probability decreased if adolescents reported greater friendship quality.

The clustering of different types of victimization is common among adolescents. For both males and females, a difficult parent-child relationship characterized as rejecting is important when considering risk for multiple victimization, as is the adolescent's functioning outside of the home in the context of friendship quality and involvement in out-of-school activities. Non-victimization adversity (e.g., death of a loved one) also emerged as a significant multiple victimization correlate.

Non-physically invasive types of victimization (although adolescents also endorsed physical assault) are a reality for a number of adolescents. As such, we need to inquire about such experiences as school social exclusion, discrimination, and verbal threats in applied contexts. Moreover, in order to better identify adolescents who may be vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization, we need to adopt an ecological approach that considers individual, family, and household functioning.