Objective: Children who experience multiple victimizations (referred to in this paper as poly-victims) need to be identified because they are at particularly high risk of additional victimization and traumatic psychological effects. This paper compares alternative ways of identifying such children using questions from the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ).
Methods: The JVQ was administered in a national random digit dial telephone survey about the experiences of 2,030 children. The victimizations of children 10-17 years old were assessed through youth self-report on the JVQ and the victimizations of children 2-9 assessed through JVQ caregiver proxy report.
Results: Twenty-two percent of the children in this sample had experienced four or more different kinds of victimizations in separate incidents (what we term poly-victimization) within the previous year. Such poly-victimization was highly associated with traumatic symptomatology. Several ways of identifying poly-victims with the JVQ produced roughly equivalent results: a simple count using the 34 victimizations screeners, a count using a reduced set of only 12 screeners, and the original poly-victimization measure using follow-up questions to identify victimizations occurring during different episodes.
Conclusion: Researchers and clinicians should be taking steps to identify poly-victims within the populations with which they work and have several alternative ways of doing so.