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Polyvictimization: A Real-World Threat to our Children

Did you know that children in the United States suffer higher rates of victimization and crime than adults? Research shows that one out of every four children will experience some type of trauma or victimization before they reach the age of 16.

So, suppose you went into your child’s classroom and looked around the room. Out of the 30 students sitting there, including your child, 24 of them will have suffered at least one type of abuse, trauma or victimization, and more than half of those will have experienced more than one type of victimization.

Recent research has shown that when a child is victimized in one way, for example bullied, they are much more likely to be victimized in other ways, such as physically abused or assaulted. Children suffering from multiple types of abuse or victimization are called polyvictims. This widespread victimization is responsible for a variety of physical and mental health related consequences affecting children well into their adult years.

For professionals interested in helping polyvictims, the research suggests taking a more holistic approach to both assessment and interventions for traumatized children. Educators, health care professionals, mental health professionals and other child care providers and advocates need to know and understand the implications of polyvictimization. Because of the multiple types of abuse often suffered, yet rarely disclosed, by children, professionals need to ask more questions and examine more thoroughly, the true extent of victimization of any child victim they work with, for example not just treating them for the identified type of victimization, but also seeking to identify if they have suffered from other types of victimization, and treating those as well.

Additionally, both parents and professionals should recognize that comprehensive prevention education should be provided to all children. According to research, prevention programs that focus on all types of victimization and teach universal safety rules and strategies are most effective.

MBF Child Safety Matters™ is one prevention education program developed from polyvictimization research that focuses on protecting children from all types of victimization. It educates and empowers students in grades K-6 with 5 Safety Rules they can use to help adults keep them safe no matter what type of unsafe situation they are facing, including bullying, cyberbullying, all types of child abuse, digital abuse and other digital dangers. Visit our website at www.mbfchildsafetymatters.org and download the “Child Safety Matters” app at no cost from the App Store or Google Play to learn the 5 Safety Rules and how to better protect the children in your life.

To learn more about polyvictimization, please visit www.polyvictimization.org.

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What They're Saying...

The MBF Child Safety Matters program is impressive. This important information is well formulated and well presented, developmentally appropriate, and based on good understanding of literature.

There’s not a child in the world who can’t benefit from this program. There are so many instances where we see children who have been damaged and hurt. Things happened to them and we think, if they’d only had this program, if they’d only had the benefit of this education, that might not have happened to them. If we can prevent that from happening to a single child, then it’s worth all the effort we have put forth.

I heard about the program through my son. He came home…and showed me the safety rules. I cannot thank the Foundation enough; to have other people who are also concerned about my child’s safety and the safety of other kids is wonderful. I especially like the program’s focus on the prevention side.