Victimization relates to any experience of being the target of physical, sexual, social, emotional, or psychological harm, including experiences of partner violence, sexual assault, and maltreatment by caregivers.  Being victimized is associated with a number of adverse conditions, both short- and long-term.  For example, individuals victimized by violent crime are more likely to experience problems such as poor physical health, substance abuse, and difficulties in school (Wordes & Nunez, 2002). Maltreated youth are more likely to develop mental health problems, use drugs and alcohol, and engage in delinquent and criminal behavior (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2005; Hughes & Madigan, 2003). Studies of bullying suggest that children who experience peer victimization are more likely to suffer emotional problems such as depression and loneliness (Hawker & Boulton, 2000) and exhibit behavior problems (Schwartz et al., 1998).

By ChildTrends


  • Peer Victimization
  • Physical Victimization
  • Psychological Victimization
  • Sexual Victimization


Sources Cited

Hawker, D.S.J., & Boulton, M.J. (2000). Twenty years' research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 441-455.

Hughes, T.L., & Madigan. (2003). Emerging Practice in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: Office on Child Abuse and Neglect. Available at:

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2005). Child Maltreatment; Fact Sheet.  Atlanta, G: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed April 11, 2005. 

Schwartz, D., McFadyen-Ketchum, S.A., Dodge, K.A., Pettit, G.S., & Bates, J.E. (1998). Peer group victimization as a predictor of children's behavior problems at home and in school. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 87-99

Wordes, M., & Nunez, M. (2002). Our Vulnerable Teenagers: Their Victimization, Its Consequences, and Directions for Prevention and Intervention: National Council on Crime and Delinquency.