The Overlap between Victimisation and Offending among Hong Kong Youth

Project: Research

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Traditionally, victimisation and offending have been treated separately, both in theory and in practice. However, recent research studies have demonstrated that there is significant overlap between victims and offenders, prompting new calls for research that addresses the link between these two phenomena. These studies have shown that many individuals who have experienced victimisation are also offenders themselves at some point in time and vice versa. Victims and offenders have been shown to share a common set of risk factors, and this commonality has been empirically supported in many countries. However, most victimoffender overlap studies are conducted in North America, primarily in the US, and limited data about this phenomenon in Asia are available. The proposed study is important in not only to provide a better understanding of both victimisation and offending, but also to offer suggestions to help social services to target these phenomena better and to reduce levels of both. To address this unexplored area, this study aims to examine the overlap between victimisation and offending among Chinese youth in Hong Kong. This study will sample 1,200 youth aged between 13 and 20, drawn from the traditional school-aged, at-risk, and adjudicated (under court jurisdiction for having engaged in delinquent behaviour) youth groups. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study will assess victimisation and offending rates among these youth, establish different risk and protective factors for victimisation and offending, and investigate the relationship between victimisation and offending. The study will proceed in two stages. In the first, a self-administered survey method will be fielded to assess the participants’ self-reported victimisation and offending frequencies, and collect data on peer, familial, individual, contextual and demographical measures that will help test a number of theories about the victim-offender relationship. The participants’ responses will be compared, according to their status as traditional school-aged, at-risk, and adjudicated youth, to explore their differential prevalence of victim-offender overlap in these groups. One of the potential strength of the proposed sample selection is that some participants (e.g., at-risk and adjudicated youth) are drawn from the social service agencies, whereby implications of this study may aid these agencies to improve their services. Hypothetically, the prevalence of victim-offender overlap is higher among adjudicated youth, follows by at-risk youth, and the least in traditional school-aged adolescents. In view of potential time constraint in this stage of data collection, the second stage of study will consist of a follow-up, in-depth interview with a selected group of 40 consented at-risk and adjudicated youth 12 months after the initial survey was conducted. The rationale for such a selection is that the tendency to engage in offending and experience victimisation is much higher for at-risk and adjudicated youth than their traditional school-aged counterparts. Thus, the analysis of the victim-offender overlap is likely to yield better results by focusing specifically on these groups. The interview will aim to obtain more information regarding the causes and correlates of the overlap and the nature of overlap over time. The findings of this study will offer valuable evidence about the specifics of the offender-victim overlap that can implicate policy and practice (i.e., social service and rehabilitation); and help better serve this, often neglected, group of victim-offenders, perhaps by asking what assistance they need.


Project number9048016
Grant typeECS
Effective start/end date1/01/156/12/18

    Research areas

  • Offending,Victimisation,Overlap,Victim-Offender Overlap,