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Measuring adolescents’ exposure to victimization: The Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-416
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Volume27
Issue number4 Pt 2
DOIs
Accepted/In press2015
Published4 Nov 2015

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Abstract

This paper presents multilevel findings on adolescents' victimization exposure from a large longitudinal cohort of twins. Data were obtained from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, an epidemiological study of 2,232 children (1,116 twin pairs) followed to 18 years of age (with 93% retention). To assess adolescent victimization, we combined best practices in survey research on victimization with optimal approaches to measuring life stress and traumatic experiences, and introduce a reliable system for coding severity of victimization. One in three children experienced at least one type of severe victimization during adolescence (crime victimization, peer/sibling victimization, Internet/mobile phone victimization, sexual victimization, family violence, maltreatment, or neglect), and most types of victimization were more prevalent among children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Exposure to multiple victimization types was common, as was revictimization; over half of those physically maltreated in childhood were also exposed to severe physical violence in adolescence. Biometric twin analyses revealed that environmental factors had the greatest influence on most types of victimization, while severe physical maltreatment from caregivers during adolescence was predominantly influenced by heritable factors. The findings from this study showcase how distinct levels of victimization measurement can be harmonized in large-scale studies of health and development.

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