Objective: To document extrafamily victimization, exposure to community violence and polyvictimization in a child welfare sample of children and youths. Method: Telephone interviews were conducted among 138 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and 82 caregivers of children aged 2 to 11 years followed by child welfare agencies in Quebec to document the victimization experienced by children during the past year. Results: The vast majority (90%) of young people were the target of direct or indirect past-year victimizations, with the majority of these victims (93%) being the target of more than one form of victimization. More than half of the sample (54%) experienced at least four forms of victimization in the past year. Conclusions: This first study documenting polyvictimization in a child welfare sample outlines that practitioners should inquire about a wide range of victimization experiences. Focusing intervention on a single form of victimization (maltreatment) does not address the specific service needs of children chronically victimized and fails to address their high risk of victimization in the community. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms linked to the increased victimization risk among maltreated children in order to develop effective intervention and prevention programs.
Psychology of Violence, 2(4): 385-400