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Analysis: 32 years of US filicide arrests
Date:2/25/2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Instances in which parents kill their children may seem so horrifying and tragic that they defy explanation. Published scientific and medical research, meanwhile, doesn't offer much epidemiological context to help people understand patterns among such heinous crimes. A paper in the March edition of the journal Forensic Science International provides the first comprehensive statistical analysis of filicide in the United States, drawing on 32 years of data on more than 94,000 arrests. The study also explores possible underlying psychiatric and biological underpinnings of filicide.

The research could help identify valid patterns among filicide cases, said lead author Dr. Timothy Mariano, a third-year psychiatry resident in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, which could in turn aid in studying the causes of filicide.

"To know more about the epidemiology of this crime will hopefully help medical practitioners to identify people who are at risk for committing such crimes and that will help us with prevention, which is the ultimate goal of this research," Mariano said.

A broad understanding of filicide, for instance, can help disabuse professionals and members of the public of certain myths and stereotypes about the crime, said senior author Dr. Wade Myers, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown and a forensic psychiatrist at Rhode Island Hospital. For example, the data show that men are about as likely as women to kill infants. Stepchildren are not more likely than biological children to die at their parents' hands, and nearly one in five filicides (18 percent) are killings of adult children, suggesting filicide is a lifetime risk.

Statistical context

The data in the study, first published online last month, come from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) database. Mariano, Myers, and co-author Heng Choon C
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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