The developmental epidemiology of childhood victimization

J Interpers Violence. 2009 May;24(5):711-31. doi: 10.1177/0886260508317185. Epub 2008 May 8.


This article examines developmental trends in the rates of different kinds of victimization across the span of childhood. The Developmental Victimization Survey was a national telephone survey of the victimization experiences of 2,030 children from ages 2 to 17. The overall mean number of victimizations during a single year increased with age, as did the percentage of children with polyvictimizations (4 or more different kinds of victimization). However, some specific types of victimization, physical bullying and sibling assaults, were highest prior to adolescence and then declined. Other types had different developmental patterns by gender. Peer assaults increased in adolescence for boys but not for girls. Child maltreatment and sexual victimization increased in adolescence for girls but not for boys. The complex and diverse patterns of developmental vulnerability to different kinds of victimization at different ages need more exploration and explanation in order to better target prevention and intervention policies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse / trends*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / trends
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology