Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Haglund, Kristin

Second Advisor

Belknap, Ruth Ann

Third Advisor

Garnier-Villarreal, Mauricio


The purpose of this study was to test the pathways to polyvictimization model, a conceptual model developed by Dr. David Finkelhor, as an accurate measure of victimization among children in fragile families. Polyvictimization is the simultaneous, accumulative exposure to multiple forms of victimization. Finkelhor’s pathways to polyvictimization model consisted of four hypothesized pathways to becoming polyvictimized. The four pathways include a) residing in a dangerous community, b) living in a dangerous family, c) having a chaotic, multi-problem family environment, and d) the child has emotional or behavioral problems that increase risk behavior, engender antagonism, and compromise the capacity to protect oneself. While researching the pathways it was decided that seven victimization types from the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire - the questionnaire from which the pathways to polyvictimization were developed – needed to be included in the hypothesized polyvictimization measurement model. This study used a correlational research design that utilized data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national, longitudinal research study that examined the possible consequences of childbearing outside of marriage. The Social-Ecological Model was used as the framework for this study. Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), the 11-factor hypothesized polyvictimization measurement model was tested to see if it could accurately assess victimization among children. CFA was also used to identify the strongest indicators of victimization in the model and to identify if the four hypothesized pathways to polyvictimization were able to predict the seven victimization types. Results found that the hypothesized polyvictimization measurement model is an accurate measure to assess victimization among children. Strong indicators of victimization were identified and strong correlation and predictor measures were discovered. Polyvictimization often goes undetected and persists over long periods of time. Children who experience polyvictimization need to be identified because they are at particularly high risk of additional victimization and traumatic psychological effects. Nurses and other health care professionals need to be able to identify children on the path to polyvictimization or those children who are polyvictimized so that they might be able to direct prevention resources to these children and their families to prevent vulnerable children from becoming polyvictimized.

Included in

Nursing Commons