The victimisation of young people in the school and community environments in England

Jackson, Vicki (2014) The victimisation of young people in the school and community environments in England. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Important developments in the research literature exploring extrafamilial victimisation have been made in the USA. However, the comparable literature from the UK is underdeveloped, limiting our understanding of the prevalence and characteristics of extrafamilial victimisation in UK settings. In addition, greater understanding of the risk and protective factors for extrafamilial victimisation is needed to develop the most effective preventative interventions.

Objectives/ research questions

To address these gaps within the literature, two studies are presented within this thesis; one cross-sectional survey and one systematic literature review. The aims of study one were to provide a comprehensive assessment of all forms of extrafamilial victimisation with an English sample of young people, exploring; the prevalence, characteristics and location of extrafamilial victimisation, associated factors relating to routine activities, and the impact of extrafamilial victimisation on psychological well-being. Study two was designed to synthesise the research findings from longitudinal cohort studies regarding the predictive factors for all forms of extrafamilial victimisation, and to explore the quality of research in this area. This research was carried out within the theoretical context of the routine activities theory (RAT) and ecological systems theory. This provided a coherent structure to aid understanding of the processes involved in extrafamilial victimisation, as well as a way in which the different elements of the young person’s ecology could be brought together to encourage exploration and to interpret the research findings.

Study design, participants and setting

Study one explores the extrafamilial victim experiences of 730 young people from eight mainstream secondary schools within one county in England. This incorporated one smaller case study of young people (N = 214) attending three secondary schools in one English town. Two pilot studies were carried out with two separate samples of young people (N= 27 & N= 30) in order to test, develop and refine the methods and procedures used in this study. The second study provided a narrative synthesis of the findings of 37 longitudinal (>1 year follow-up) cohort studies which investigated the risk factors for, and protective factors against, extrafamilial victimisation during childhood.

Main findings

The findings from study one revealed how widespread extrafamilial victimisation was amongst the young people taking part. Many of the characteristics of the young persons’ activities within the community were found to increase their risk of extrafamilial victimisation, providing support for the RAT of extrafamilial victimisation. However, the characteristics of the young persons’ journey home from school were not found to influence the prevalence of victimisation on this journey and some research findings based on the RAT of extrafamilial victimisation were not found to be significant predictors of community-based victimisation. Geographical victimisation ‘hotspots’ were identified in the case study, which revealed how the geographical distribution of community-based victimisation was located within close proximity to the young person’s school. Finally, different categories of extrafamilial victimisation were significant negative predictors of psychological well-being, as was past-year poly-victimisation and victimisation in more than one location. Finally, social support was identified as a potential moderator of the relationship between victimisation and psychological well-being.

Findings from the systematic review (study two) highlighted a number of areas of bias within the cohort studies carried out in this area, particularly population bias and outcome (i.e., extrafamilial victimisation) measurement bias. A large number of risk factors (N= 56) were investigated in the included studies, the significance of which differed according to the extent of the extrafamilial victimisation explored and the definition of extrafamilial victimisation used. Less attention was given to protective factors (N= 18) within the included studies, yet a small number of individual characteristics were identified as potentially important predictors of peer victimisation. Crucially, interaction effects were identified between predictors (mediating and moderating variables) and between risk and protective factors. These findings highlight the complexity of the network of risk and protective factors for extrafamilial victimisation. They also reveal interaction effects between predictors operating across a number of different levels of the young person’s ecology (e.g., individual predictors, environmental predictors, etc.).


The two studies presented within this thesis highlight the complex, multidimensional nature of extrafamilial victimisation. The thesis concludes by drawing upon the research findings and theories outlined within the literature to propose a new model of extrafamilial victimisation. This takes account of the different vulnerabilities and processes involved in victimisation, as well as recognising the reciprocal relationship between predictors and outcome. As such, recommendations for the development of prevention and intervention are outlined, as is the need for future research in this area.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Browne, K.
Joseph, S.
Keywords: Extrafamilial victimisation, Psychological well-being, Routine activities theory, Ecological systems theory, Systematic review, Risk, Protection, Hotspot
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WS Pediatrics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 14289
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2014 09:14
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 22:20

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