UA-174898256-1 Crimes Against Children Research Center


General Child Victimization

Children suffer rates of conventional crime victimization, like rape, robbery and assault, that are substantially higher than the general adult population. They also suffer a considerable burden of victimizations that are specific to being children – child maltreatment, neglect and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, crimes against children are considerably less likely to come to police attention than crimes against adults. Even so, the police see more children in the role of crime victim than in the role of crime offender.  It is thus ironic that crimes committed by children  -- juvenile delinquency – receive considerably more official attention than crimes committed against children. This is reflected in courses in college curricula devoted entirely to Juvenile Delinquency or the Federal government’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is concerned about juvenile victims, but only has delinquency in its title.

David Finkelhor & Dick Ormrod (2000). Characteristics of Crimes Against Juveniles. Juvenile Justice Bulletin – NCJ179034 (pgs. 1-11).

David Finkelhor (2007).Developmental Victimology: The Comprehensive Study of Childhood Victimization. In R.C. Davis, A.J. Lurigio, & Herman, S. (Eds.), Victims of Crime (3rd ed., pp. 9-34). , Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


Featured Articles


Trends in Childhood Violence and Abuse Exposure: Evidence from 2 National Surveys
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H.A., Ormrod, R.K., & Hamby, S.L. (2010)

There have been marked declines in several indicators of childhood exposure to violence and abuse from the early 1990s to the recent past. There are, however, some questions about whether the declines of the 1990s continued during the 2000s and for what kinds of crime and violence. This article reports trend information comparing the 2003 data from the Develpmental Victimizations Study (DVS) and 2008 data from the National Study of Children Exposed to Violence finding among other things:

Violence, Crime, and Abuse Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth: An Update (This version has been updated with corrections to Table 1 on January 15, 2014.)
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Shattuck, A., & Hamby, S.L. (2013).

Children suffer higher rates of exposure to violence and crime than do adults and such exposure is responsible for a considerable burden of physical and mental health morbidity. However, comprehensive epidemiology about this exposure has lagged behind other pediatric public health threats and lacked nationally representative samples, and epidemiological studies have been limited to a restricted part of the age or victimization spectrum.

The authors aimed to advance epidemiology in this area by using a large nationally representative sample to cover the entire age range of childhood, assessing the most comprehensive spectrum of victimization types, and obtaining both previous-year and lifetime estimates.

How the Justice System Respondes to Juvenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model
Finkelhor,D., Cross,T. and Cantor,E. (2005)

This Bulletin introduces the concept that a justice system exists that responds to juvenile victims. This juvenile victim justice system is a complex set of agencies and institutions that include police, prosecutors, criminal and civil courts, child protection agencies, children's advocacy cneters, and victim services and mental health agencies. The system has a structure and sequence, but its operation, despite the thousands of cases it handles every year, is not as widely recognized and understood as the operation of the more familiar juvenile offender justice system.

Developmental Victimology: The Comprehensive Study of Childhood Victimizations
Finkelhor,D. (2007) from R.C. Davis, A.J. Lurigio, & Herman, S. (Eds.), Victims of Crime. 3rd ed.

In this chapter, the author sketches outlines of the field of developmental victimology. It is a field intended to help promote interest in and understanding of the broad range of victimizations that children suffer from and to suggest some specfic lines of inquiry that such an interest should take. In promoting this holistic field, the author contends that the promblem of juvenile victimization can be addressed in many of the same comprehensive and conceptual ways that the field of juvenile delinquency has addressed the problem of juvenile offending.

Offenders Incarcerated for Crimes against Juveniles
Finkelhor,D., and Ormrod, R.(2001).

By 1997, offenders against juveniles made up more than one-fifth of all prisoners incarcerated for violent crimes in State prisons in the United States. Offenders against juveniles pose distinct challenges for the criminal justice system - both because of the vulnerable nature of their victims and because of society's sometimes highly charged reaction to their crimes. This bulletin uses data from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities to find, among other things, that:

Characteristics of Crimes against Juveniles

Finkelhor,D., and Ormrod, R.(2000)

An analysis of the data from the FBI's 1997 National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) from jurisdictions in 12 states reveals some key findings:

Reporting Crimes against Juveniles
Finkelhor, D., and Ormrod, R.K. (1999)

The findings presented in this Bulletin indicate that a majority of victimizations of juveniles ages 12 to 17 are not being reported to police or other authorities. Even serious victimizations involving weapons and injury are significantly less likely to be reported when they happen to juveniles than when they happen to adults.

A variety of factors may contribute to the underreporting of crimes against juveniles, including adolescent concerns about personal autonomy and fears of being blamed or not taken seriously, family concerns about the negative impact of the justice system on children, and the general perception that nonsexual assaults against youth are something other than real crimes. The justice system may be able to increase youth reporting by emphasizing its interest in assisting juvenile victims, making staff more available and accessible, and countering some of the ideology that inhibits such reporting.

Polyvictimization in a National Sample of Children and Youth
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R.K. & Turner, H.A. (2010)

Considerable research has documented high levels of childhood exposure to abuse, violence, and crime, as well as its damaging physical and mental health consequences. In this literature, however, little attention has been paid to the possibility that children may often be exposed to multiple forms of victimization. Building on earlier research, this study employs the concept of "poly-victimization" to describe this highly victimized group of children in an effort to demonstrate the detrimental consequences of poly-victimization for child well-being.