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The effect of lifetime victimization on the mental health of children and adolescents


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  • Turner, Heather A.
  • Finkelhor, David
  • Ormrod, Richard
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    This paper examines the cumulative prevalence of victimization and its impact on mental health in a nationally representative sample of 2030 children aged 2-17 in the USA. Telephone interviews conducted with both caregivers and youth revealed socio-demographic variations in lifetime exposure to most forms of victimization, with ethnic minorities, those lower in socio-economic status, and those living in single parent and stepfamilies experiencing greater victimization. Sexual assault, child maltreatment, witnessing family violence, and other major violence exposure each made independent contributions to levels of both depression and anger/aggression. Other non-victimization adversities also showed substantial independent effects, while in most cases, each victimization domain remained a significant predictor of mental health. Results suggest that cumulative exposure to multiple forms of victimization over a child's life-course represents a substantial source of mental health risk.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 13-27

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:1:p:13-27

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    Keywords: USA Children Adolescents Victimization Stress Mental health;


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    Cited by:
    1. McWey, Lenore M. & Acock, Alan & Porter, Breanne E., 2010. "The impact of continued contact with biological parents upon the mental health of children in foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1338-1345, October.
    2. Kort-Butler, Lisa A., 2010. "Experienced and vicarious victimization: Do social support and self-esteem prevent delinquent responses?," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 496-505, July.
    3. Reckdenwald, Amy & Mancini, Christina & Beauregard, Eric, 2014. "Adolescent self-image as a mediator between childhood maltreatment and adult sexual offending," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 85-94.
    4. Bender, Kimberly, 2010. "Why do some maltreated youth become juvenile offenders?: A call for further investigation and adaptation of youth services," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 466-473, March.
    5. Uliando, Anna & Mellor, David, 2012. "Maltreatment of children in out-of-home care: A review of associated factors and outcomes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2280-2286.
    6. McLaughlin, Katie A. & Breslau, Joshua & Green, Jennifer Greif & Lakoma, Matthew D. & Sampson, Nancy A. & Zaslavsky, Alan M. & Kessler, Ronald C., 2011. "Childhood socio-economic status and the onset, persistence, and severity of DSM-IV mental disorders in a US national sample," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(7), pages 1088-1096.
    7. Turner, Heather A. & Finkelhor, David & Hamby, Sherry L. & Shattuck, Anne, 2013. "Family structure, victimization, and child mental health in a nationally representative sample," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 39-51.


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