A systematic review of conceptualizations and operationalizations of youth polyvictimization

Spenser R. Radtke*, Christopher J. Wretman, Cynthia Fraga Rizo, Hannabeth Franchino-Olsen, Denise Yookong Williams, Wan Ting Chen, Rebecca J. Macy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Violence against youth is a global issue impacting millions each year. Increasingly, research has focused on studying those impacted by multiple forms of violence, or polyvictims. Evidence strongly suggests that polyvictimized youth tend to have worse physical and mental health outcomes than those who have experienced single forms of violence. Moreover, minoritized youth (i.e., racial and/or sexual minority youth, youth with disabilities) are more likely to experience polyvictimization, making this a social justice and equity concern. To date, there is no universal consensus on what exactly constitutes polyvictimization. This systematic review aims to examine the ways in which polyvictimization is being studied to inform both research and practice. As such, relevant databases were searched to amass the extant literature related to youth polyvictimization internationally. Empirical studies published since 2006 that focused on youth (under age 18) polyvictimization were included. After the review process, 264 studies met eligibility criteria, however 55 studies employed person-centered/finite mixture analyses and were removed for a separate review, resulting in 209 featured in the current systematic review. Results demonstrate that researchers are defining and operationalizing polyvictimization in different ways: (a) using individual victimization event counts; (b) employing domain-based counts; and (c) taking a “highest-victimized” percentage of their sample. The most used measurement tool was the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire, though other validated tools and researcher-constructed questions were frequently utilized. Research on polyvictimization is burgeoning worldwide; however, this research is being conducted in disparate ways, making it difficult to compare findings and further advance the field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Early online date30 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jan 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • child abuse
  • violence exposure
  • youth violence


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