Advertisement

What Is Fatal Child Maltreatment?

  • Emily M. Douglas
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter provides an in-depth discussion concerning how fatal child maltreatment is conceptualized and counted in the United States. This includes information concerning the various definitions of death by child abuse and neglect and how it varies by professional groups, such as law enforcement or child welfare professionals. The chapter discusses how child maltreatment deaths are counted, changes in trends over time, and what are the potential reasons for these changes, other than actual changes in the numbers of children who die. The definitions and counting of child maltreatment deaths is controversial and those areas of contention are identified and discussed. The chapter closes by identifying what we currently know with regard to how we define and count maltreatment fatalities, and what remains left to be learned.

Keywords

Fatal child maltreatment Child deaths Prevalence of child deaths 

References

  1. Adler, C., & Polk, K. (2001). Child victims of homicide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmad, O. B., Lopez, A. D., & Inoue, M. (2000). The decline in child mortality: A reappraisal. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 78, 1175–1191.Google Scholar
  3. Asser, S. M., & Swan, R. (1998). Child fatalities from religion-motivated medical neglect. Pediatrics, 101(4), 625.Google Scholar
  4. Banaschak, S., Janssen, K., Schulte, B., & Rothschild, M. A. (2015). Rate of deaths due to child abuse and neglect in children 0–3 years of age in Germany. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 129(5), 1091–1096. doi: 10.1007/s00414-015-1144-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett, M. D., Jr., Hall, J., Frazier, L., Jr., Patel, N., Barker, L., & Shaw, K. (2006). Homicide of children aged 0–4 years, 2003–04: Results from the National Violent Death Reporting System. Injury Prevention: Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention, 12(Suppl 2), ii39–ii43.Google Scholar
  6. Berkowitz, C. D. (2003). Child neglect. In M. S. Peterson, M. Durfee, & K. Coulter (Eds.), Child abuse and neglect: Guidelines for identification, assessment, and case management (pp. 69–74). Volcano, CA: Volcano Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  7. Birken, C. S., Parkin, P. C., To, T., Wilkins, R., & Macarthur, C. (2009). Neighborhood socioeconomic status and homicides among children in urban Canada. Pediatrics, 123(5), 815–819. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-0132.
  8. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2014). Homicide. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=311
  9. Center for Public Policy Priorities. (2009). Child abuse and neglect deaths in Texas. Center for Public Policy Priorities.Google Scholar
  10. Centers for Disease Control. (1999). Achievements in public health, 1900–1999: Healthier mothers and babies. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48(38), 849–858.Google Scholar
  11. Chance, T. C. (2003, July). Our children are dying: Understanding and improving national maltreatment fatality data. Paper presented at the 8th International family violence research conference, Portsmouth, NH.Google Scholar
  12. Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, Pub. L. No. 112–34, H.R. 2883 Stat. (2011).Google Scholar
  13. Child Maltreatment Research Listserv. (2009, August 25). [New bulletin: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008].Google Scholar
  14. Child Trends. (2012). Infant homicide. Indicators on children and youth. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=infant-homicide
  15. Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect-American Academy of Pediatrics. (1994). Distinguishing sudden infant death syndrome from child abuse fatalities. Pediatrics, 94(1), 124–126.Google Scholar
  16. Cooper, S. (2008). Child death review procedures are ready to be standardised. Children & Young People Now, 3–3.Google Scholar
  17. Corsini, C. A., & Viazzo, P. P. (Eds.). (1993). The decline of infant mortality in Europe, 1800–1950: Four national case studies. Florence, Italy: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  18. Covington, T. M. (2011). The US National Child Death Review Case Reporting System. Injury Prevention, 17, 34–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dallas Police Department. (1994, August 31–September 2). Paper presented at the Crimes Against Children 1994: The 6th annual seminar presented by the Dallas Police Department & the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Dallas, Texas.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, K. (2013, October 14). Court-martial begins Tuesday in Dyess child neglect case. Military Times. Retrieved from http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20131014/NEWS06/310140011/Court-martial-begins-Tuesday-Dyess-child-neglect-case
  21. Douglas, E. M. (2012). Child welfare workers’ training, knowledge, and practice concerns regarding child maltreatment fatalities: An exploratory, multi-state analysis. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(5), 659–677. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2012.723975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ellement, J. R. (2013, October 11). Parents charged with manslaughter in 2011 death of baby in Marshfield. Boston Globe. Retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/10/11/parents-marshfield-baby-girl-charged-with-homicide-poisoned-infant-with-opiates-formula-bottle-authorities-say/AvD5rEvXRaebHRG3cZUCkL/story.html
  23. Ewigman, B., Kivlahan, C., & Land, G. (1993). The Missouri fatality study: Underreporting of maltreatment fatalities among children younger than five years of age, 1983 through 1986. Pediatrics, 91(2), 330.Google Scholar
  24. Finkelhor, D., & Jones, L. M. (2012). Have sexual abuse and physical abuse declined since the 1990s? Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Finkelhor, D., Jones, L. M., & Shattuck, A. (2010). Updated trends in child maltreatment, 2008. Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire.Google Scholar
  26. Flaherty, E. G. M. H. L. (2013). Caregiver-fabricated illness in a child: A manifestation of child maltreatment. Pediatrics, 132(3), 590–597. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2045.
  27. Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. W. (2004). Homicide trends in the United States: 2002 update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus02.pdf.Google Scholar
  28. Garstang, J., & Sidebotham, P. (2008). Interagency training: Establishing a course in the management of unexpected childhood death. Child Abuse Review, 17(5), 352–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gilchrist, J., Ballesteros, M. F., & Parker, E. M. (2012, April). Vital signs: Unintentional injury deaths among persons aged 0–19 years — United States, 2000–2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61.Google Scholar
  30. Harris, V. A., Rochette, L. M., & Smith, G. A. (2011). Pediatric injuries attributable to falls from windows in the United States in 1990–2008. Pediatrics, 128(3), 455–462. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2687.Google Scholar
  31. Herman-Giddens, M. E., Brown, G., Verbiest, S., Carlson, P. J., Hooten, E. G., Howell, E., et al. (1999). Underascertainment of child abuse mortality in the United States. JAMA, 282(5), 463–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hymel, K. P., & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect-American Academy of Pediatrics. (2006). Distinguishing sudden infant death syndrome from child abuse fatalities. Pediatrics, 118(1), 421–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jones, L. M., & Finkelhor, D. (2003). Putting together evidence on declining trends in sexual abuse: A complex puzzle. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27(2), 133–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jones, L. M., Finkelhor, D., & Halter, S. (2006). Child maltreatment trends in the 1990s: Why does neglect differ from sexual and physical abuse? Child Abuse & Neglect, 11(2), 107–120.Google Scholar
  35. Kim, S. Y., Shapiro-Mendoza, C. K., Chu, S. Y., Camperlengo, L. T., & Anderson, R. N. (2012). Differentiating cause-of-death terminology for deaths coded as sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, and unknown cause: An investigation using US death certificates, 2003–2004. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 57(2), 364–369. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01937.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Klevens, J., & Leeb, R. T. (2010). Child maltreatment fatalities in children under 5: Findings from the National Violence Death Reporting System. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, 34(4), 262–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lanning, K. V., & Walsh, B. (1996). Criminal investigation of suspected child abuse (From APSAC handbook on child maltreatment, pp. 246–270, 1996, John Briere, Lucy Berliner, et al. eds. – See NCJ-172299) Criminal investigation of suspected child abuse (From APSAC handbook on child maltreatment, pp. 246–270, 1996, John Briere, Lucy Berliner, et al., eds. – See NCJ-172299) (pp. 246–270). United States.Google Scholar
  38. Levene, S., & Bacon, C. J. (2004). Sudden unexpected death and covert homicide in infancy. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 89(5), 443–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Liang, B. A., & Macfarlane, W. L. (1999, Summer). Murder by omission: Child abuse and the passive parent. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 36(2), 397–450.Google Scholar
  40. Margolin, L. (1990). Fatal child neglect. Child Welfare, 69(4), 309–319.Google Scholar
  41. Mash, C., Frazier, T., Nowacki, A., Worley, S., & Goldfarb, J. (2011). Development of a risk-stratification tool for medical child abuse in failure to thrive. Pediatrics, 128(6), e1467–e1473. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McKee, G. R. (2006). Why mothers kill: A forensic psychologist’s casebook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McLaren, C., Null, J., & Quinn, J. (2005). Heat stress from enclosed vehicles: Moderate ambient temperatures cause significant temperature rise in enclosed vehicles. Pediatrics, 116(1), e109–e112. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-2368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Meyer, C., Oberman, M., & Rone, M. (2001). Mothers who kill their children: Understanding the acts of moms from Susan Smith to the “prom mom”. New York, NY: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Miller, C. M., & Burch, A. D. S. (2013, August 20). Names of dead children invoked at hearing to reform DCF. Miami Herald. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/20/3575635/names-of-dead-children-invoked.html#storylink=cpy
  46. Murphy, S. L., Xu, J., & Kochanek, K. D. (2013). Deaths: Final data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Report, 61(3).Google Scholar
  47. Murray, G. V. (2011, July 28). Judge acquits mother in death: 23-month-old fell from window. Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.telegram.com/article/20110728/NEWS/107289464/0
  48. National Conference of State Legislatures. (2011). Summary of the “Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act” (S.1542/H.R. 2883). Retrieved December 21, 2013, from http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/summary-of-the-quotchild-and-family-services-imp.aspx
  49. Palusci, V. J., & Covington, T. M. (2014). Child maltreatment deaths in the U.S. National Child Death Review Case Reporting System. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(1), 25–36. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.08.014.
  50. Pediatrics, C. o. C. A. a. N.-A. A. o. (2001). Distinguishing sudden infant death syndrome from child abuse fatalities. Pediatrics, 107(2), 437–441.Google Scholar
  51. Pitcher, G. J., & Bowley, D. M. G. (2002). Infant rape in South Africa. Lancet, 359(9303), 274–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Protect Our Kids Act, Pub. L. No. 112–275 (2012).Google Scholar
  53. Schnitzer, P. G., Covington, T. M., Wirtz, S. J., Verhoek-Oftedahl, W., & Palusci, V. J. (2008). Public health surveillance of fatal child maltreatment: Analysis of 3 state programs. American Journal of Public Health, 98(2), 296–303. doi: 10.2105/ajph.2006.087783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schreier, H. A., & Libow, J. A. (1993). Munchausen syndrome by proxy: Diagnosis and prevalence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63(2), 318–321. doi: 10.1037/h0079426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sethi, D., Bellis, M., Hughes, K., Gilbert, R., Mitis, F., & Galea, G. (2013). European report on preventing child maltreatment. Copenhagen, Denmark: World Health Organization Europe.Google Scholar
  56. Shapiro-Mendoza, C. K., Kimball, M., Tomashek, K. M., Anderson, R. N., & Blanding, S. (2009). US infant mortality trends attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed from 1984 through 2004: Are rates increasing? Pediatrics, 123(2), 533–539. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-3746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Soerdjbalie-Maikoe, V., Bilo, R. A. C., van den Akker, E., & Maes, A. (2010). Unnatural death due to child abuse – Forensic autopsies 1996–2009. Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde, 154, A2285–A2285Google Scholar
  58. Stevens, A. (2013, October 15). Paulding boy, 12, believed beaten to death. Atlanta Constitution Journal. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/news/news/paulding-boy-found-beaten-to-death/nbNZC/
  59. Stirling, J., & Abuse, a. t. C. o. C., & Neglect. (2007). Beyond Munchausen syndrome by proxy: Identification and treatment of child abuse in a medical setting. Pediatrics, 119(5), 1026–1030. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Swan, R. (1997). Children, medicine, religion and the law. Advances in Pediatrics, 44, 491–543.Google Scholar
  61. Tsai, H.-L., Yang, L.-Y., Chin, T.-W., Chen, P.-H., Yen, H.-J., Liu, C.-S., … Chang, J.-W. (2012). Child abuse in medical setting presenting as gross hematuria: Diagnosis by DNA short tandem repeats. Pediatrics, 130(1), e224–e229. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3271.
  62. Tursz, A., Crost, M., Gerbouin-Rerolle, P., & Cook, J. M. (2010). Underascertainment of child abuse fatalities in France: Retrospective analysis of judicial data to assess underreporting of infant homicides in mortality statistics. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, 34(7), 534–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (n.d.). Homicide. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=311
  64. U.S. Children’s Bureau. (2011). Definitions of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.pdf
  65. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2011). Child maltreatment 2010: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems – National statistics on child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.Google Scholar
  66. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2012). Child maltreatment 2011: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems – National statistics on child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.Google Scholar
  67. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2013). Child maltreatment 2012: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems – National statistics on child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.Google Scholar
  68. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2015). Child maltreatment 2013: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems – National statistics on child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.Google Scholar
  69. UNICEF. (2003). A league table of child maltreatment deaths in rich countries. Innocent report card, issue no. 5 September 2003. Retrieved October 26, 2003, from http://www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/
  70. United Nations Children’s Fund. (2015). Levels & trends in child mortality. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
  71. United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. (1995). A nation’s shame: Fatal child abuse and neglect in the United States.Google Scholar
  72. Young, M., & Hyden, P. W. (2003). Child abuse by burning. In M. S. Peterson, M. Durfee, & K. Coulter (Eds.), Child abuse and neglect: Guidelines for identification, assessment, and case management (pp. 41–47). Volcano, CA: Volcano Press, Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily M. Douglas
    • 1
  1. 1.Bridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA

Personalised recommendations