From Poly-Victimization to Poly-Strengths: Understanding the Web of Violence Can Transform Research on Youth Violence and Illuminate the Path to Prevention and Resilience.

Academic Article


  • For many years, an overly "siloed" approach has hampered efforts to understand violence and minimize the societal burden of violence and victimization. This article discusses the limitations of an overly specialized approach to youth violence research, which has focused too much on violence in particular contexts, such as the family or the school. Instead, a child-centered approach is needed that comprehensively assesses all exposures to violence. This concept of the total cumulative burden of violence is known as poly-victimization. The poly-victimization framework reveals that many youth are entangled in a web of violence, experiencing victimization in multiple settings by multiple perpetrators. This more accurate view of children's exposure to violence has many advantages for advancing our scientific understanding of violence. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, this more comprehensive view also points to new insights for resilience and prevention. This includes recognizing a parallel concept, "poly-strengths," which captures the number of resources and assets children and their families can use to help insulate youth from violence (prevention) or assist in coping and promoting well-being after victimization (intervention). Reconceptualizing how resilience is defined and understood among youth populations can help alleviate the true societal burden of youth victimization.
  • Authors

  • Hamby, Sherry
  • Taylor, Elizabeth
  • Jones, Lisa
  • Mitchell, Kimberly
  • Turner, Heather
  • Newlin, Chris
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 2018
  • Keywords

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Bullying
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Crime Victims
  • Exposure to Violence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Schools
  • Self-Control
  • Violence
  • child abuse
  • prevention of child abuse
  • resilience
  • treatment/intervention
  • violence exposure
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 29411696
  • Start Page

  • 719
  • End Page

  • 739
  • Volume

  • 33
  • Issue

  • 5