Why Use Victimization Questionnaires?

The main reason to use standardized self-report questionnaires is that they yield the most accurate reports of victimization. The following are some important benefits of questionnaires:

  • Self-report questionnaires are preferable to official records because they capture many victimizations that are never reported to child protection agencies or the police. (Underreporting is a particularly serious problem in crime victimizations of juveniles (Finkelhor and Ormrod, 1999).)

  • Self-report questionnaires are also preferable to relying on spontaneous disclosures by victims because victimization is a sensitive topic and victims are often reluctant to bring up the issue on their own.

  • Standardized self-report questionnaires are preferable to informal questioning because they cover a wide range of victimizations that are often not addressed in informal questioning.

  • Standardized self-report questionnaires use tested terminology and definitions of categories that are clear and specific.

  • Self-report questionnaires frequently have normative data available to allow for comparisons with the general population of youth or other groups.

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    Choosing and Using Child Victimization Questionnaires Juvenile Justice Bulletin March 2001