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Effects of Adolescent Victimization on Self-Concept and Depressive Symptoms

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2010
15 pages
This study investigates victimization, self-concept, and mental health.
Using two waves of the Developmental Victimization Survey (DVS), this research examined the effects of different forms of child victimization on changes in self-concept in a national sample of 11- to 18-year-old youth. Specifically, we (a) assessed the independent effects of past-year sexual victimization, nonsexual child maltreatment, peer victimization, and nonvictimization adversity on changes in mastery and self-esteem, (b) investigated the effects of these stressors on levels of depressive symptoms, and (c) determined the extent to which changes in mastery and/or self-esteem mediate associations between victimization and depression. Results indicate that only sexual victimization independently reduced self-esteem, and there were no significant changes in mastery in response to victimization exposure. Declines in self-esteem partially mediated the association between past-year sexual victimization exposure and levels of depressive symptoms. Strong direct effects of each form of victimization and nonvictimization adversity on depression were also evident. Results suggest that sexual victimization experiences may have uniquely powerful effects on self-esteem that are not apparent for other types of victimization and stress. Tables, figure, appendix and references (Published Abstract)

Date Published: February 1, 2010