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Child Abuse Negl. 2013 Oct;37(10):788-800. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.01.005. Epub 2013 Feb 19.

Poly-victimization among juvenile justice-involved youths.

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University of Connecticut Health Center, Department of Psychiatry, United States.



This study replicates and extends the research literature on poly-victimization with a vulnerable and under-served population, juvenile justice-involved youths.


N=1959, 10-16 year old youths (76% male; 74% youth of color) consecutively newly admitted to juvenile detention facilities completed psychometric measures of trauma history, posttraumatic stress, affect regulation, alcohol/drug use, suicide risk, and somatic complaints.


Using latent class analysis derived from 19 types of adversity, three unique classes best fit the data. A poly-victim class (49% female, 51% youth of color) accounted for 5% of the sample and reported a mean of 11.4 (SD=1.1) types. A relatively moderate adversity class (31% female, 70% youth of color) accounted for 36% of the sample and reported a mean of 8.9 (SD=0.3) types of adversity and 2.65 (SD=1.1) types of traumatic adversity. A low adversity class (59% of the sample; 17% female, 78% youth of color) reported a mean of 7.4 (SD=0.4) adversity types but only 0.3 (SD=0.45) types of traumatic adversity. The relatively moderate adversity class was comparable to poly-victims in endorsing extensive non-victimization traumatic adversity (e.g., accidental and loss trauma), but poly-victims were distinct from both moderate and low adversity class members in the likelihood of reporting all but one type of traumatic victimization, multiple types of traumatic victimization, and severe emotional and behavioral problems. Girls were at particularly high risk of poly-victimization, and African American and White youths also were at risk for poly-victimization.


Although youth involved in the juvenile justice system typically have experienced substantial victimization, a poly-victimized sub-group, especially (but not exclusively) girls, warrants particular scientific, clinical, and rehabilitative attention in order to address the most severe behavioral and mental health problems and risks faced by this vulnerable population.


Adolescence; Juvenile justice; Mental health; Traumatic stress; Victimization

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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