Background: This study focuses on poly-victimization, with the aim of providing a realistic estimation of the prevalence of lifetime victimization in a Norwegian adolescent population (ages 18–19 years).
Methods: Based upon the concept from previous research, we applied measures of child poly-victimization on Norwegian data obtained from a national youth survey in 2015 (N = 4,531) to arrive at an estimation of its prevalence. We used variables that measure individual characteristics such as gender and educational aspiration and socio-economic factors such as parents’ education level and home economic situation to derive a social and psychological profile of victimization and poly-victimization among young people. Finally, we estimated the effects of poly-victimization on mental health such as symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma.
Results: Our study identified a poly-victimization prevalence of 8.6% among young people, i.e. they were exposed to three of all four forms of violence investigated by our study: non-physical violence, witnessing violence against parents, physical violence and sexual abuse. Adolescents of poly-victimization are six times more likely to report depression and anxiety and trauma when compared with those without victimization.
Conclusions: Poly-victimization is a phenomenon that heavily burdens many young people across many national contexts. Poly-victims clearly tend to develop depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. The early detection of sexual abuse, physical violence, and bullying victimization is of critical importance and preventive measures could consider addressing family factors through parental educational programs.
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