Psychiatric diagnosis as a risk marker for victimization in a national sample of children.



Research examining childhood abuse has shown an association between victimization and psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, depression). Historically, psychiatric diagnoses have been emphasized as a consequence of victimization, with less research examining if it also functions as a risk factor for further victimization, perhaps making diagnoses a general victimization risk marker. In addition, much of this research has emphasized particular types of victimization such as childhood physical or sexual abuse. Researchers have given less attention to other forms of victimization (e.g., peer victimization, witnessed violence) or a diverse victimization history. Using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ) we surveyed parents and children between the ages of 2 and 17 using a random digit dial (RDD) methodology. We examined the relationship between a number of different forms of victimization (termed poly-victimization ) in the preceding year and parent-reported lifetime psychiatric diagnosis. Results show that children with a psychiatric diagnosis have significantly higher rates of victimization than children without a psychiatric diagnosis. In addition, using logistic regression models, we find that psychiatric diagnosis was associated with increased risk for poly-victimization, conventional crime victimization, maltreatment, peer or sibling victimization, and witnessing violence, but not sexual abuse. The results highlight the need to consider psychiatric diagnoses as a risk marker for past and possible future victimization. In addition, the importance of obtaining a comprehensive and more diverse victimization history when working with children is highlighted.



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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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© 2009 Sage Publications