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Homicide as a cause of pediatric mortality in the United States


Homicide is a major cause of pediatric mortality. National law enforcement data were analyzed to characterize and differentiate neonaticide, infanticide, filicide, and overall child homicide. Results include the following: Neonaticides often involved parents or unidentified perpetrators and occurred proportionately more in rural areas than did other types of child homicide. Infanticide appeared to be one end of the spectrum of child homicide and not a distinct entity. Filicide rates were higher for sons than daughters and the crime was committed by more fathers than mothers. Overall child homicide predominately involved young male offenders who were acquaintances of the victim. At remarkably early ages, homicide characteristics began to resemble those of adult homicide. Further research in this area should attempt to gain detailed information concerning the child, his family, and their social network. Pediatricians should be actively involved in determining risk factors for child homicide and in screening children for risk when these factors are determined.

Jason J, Gilliland JC, Tyler CW

Pediatrics 1983 Aug;72(2):191-7

PMID: 6866604