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Child Abuse Negl. 2019 Jan;87:40-50. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.07.022. Epub 2018 Jul 23.

Developmental timing of polyvictimization: Continuity, change, and association with adverse outcomes in adolescence.

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School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at California State University, Los Angeles, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, United States.
School of Medicine, New York University, United States.
UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Duke University Medical Center, United States.


Children who experience polyvictimization (i.e., exposure to multiple and varied traumatic stressors) are at heightened risk for psychopathology. While polyvictims generally have worse outcomes than those with fewer types of traumatic experiences, not all polyvictims experience significant, or similar, impairment suggesting that polyvictims are a heterogeneous group. This variation in outcomes among polyvictimized children, may be due to differences in how polyvictimization is operationalized and measured. The current study examines a clinically-referred sample of adolescents (N = 3754) aged 13-18 (M = 15.3, SD = 1.4) to examine whether polyvictimization in early developmental age periods predict polyvictimization in later periods and whether there are differences in severity of adolescent psychopathology based on variations in timing of polyvictimization in childhood and adolescence. Results from latent class analysis (LCA) reveal the greater the number of developmental periods in which adolescents were classified as polyvictims, the greater the severity of PTSD, externalizing problems, and internalizing problems. In addition, there was variation in the relation between developmental timing of polyvictimization and different types of adolescent psychopathology.


Polyvictimization; Posttraumatic stress; Psychopathology; Trauma; Traumatic stressors

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