Family structure, victimization, and child mental health in a nationally representative sample.

Academic Article


  • Utilizing the 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), the current study compares past year rates of 7 forms of child victimization (maltreatment, assault, peer victimization, property crime, witnessing family violence and exposure to community violence) across 3 different family structure types (two biological/adoptive parents, single parent, step/cohabiting family) among a representative sample of 4046 U.S. children ages 2-17. The study also considers whether certain social-contextual risk factors help to explain family structure variations in victimization, and the extent to which victimization exposure accounts for family structure differences in distress symptom levels. Findings showed significantly elevated rates of almost all types of victimization among children in both nontraditional family types, relative to those living with two biological/adoptive parents. Factors associated with increased victimization risk in these families include high parental conflict, drug or alcohol problems, family adversity, and community disorder. A summary measure of children's exposure to multiple forms of victimization was the strongest predictor of distress symptoms.
  • Authors

  • Turner, Heather
  • Finkelhor, David
  • Hamby, Sherry L
  • Shattuck, Anne
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • June 2013
  • Published In


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime Victims
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States
  • Violence
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23631777
  • Start Page

  • 39
  • End Page

  • 51
  • Volume

  • 87