, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 347-362

A profile of parental homicide against children

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to provide a profile of victims and offenders in cases where children were killed by their parents. The data were all incidents (3,459) in which a parent killed a child under age 18, which were recorded in theUniform Crime Reports between 1976 and 1985. In the first week of a child's life, the risk of being killed by a parent was equal for males and females. From 1 week to 15 years, males were the victims in about 55% of all parent-child homicides; the percentage of male victims increased to 77% in the 16–18 age group. Among infants in the first week of life, mothers were almost always the ones who committed the homicide. Between the first week of life and the teenage years, mothers and fathers were about equally likely to kill their child. During the 13–15 year age group, fathers committed 63% of all homicides, and this increased to 80% among the 16–18 year age group. Among very young children, the causes of death tended to be personal weaponds, asphyxiation, or drowning. As age increased, the weapons became predominantly guns and knives.