Over time, the total number of cases in the country has remained relatively stable at around 3,000 a year. There may be some good news, however. Not only has the number drifted somewhat downward since the early 1990s, but also the numbers did not climb with population growth over the last three decades.
Close to three-quarters (72 percent) of the children killed were age 6 or younger. One-third were infants (children less than 1 year of age). Only about 10 percent of children killed were between ages 7 and 18. Adult offspring were the balance of the victims. Male children were more likely to be killed (58.3 percent) than female children. About 11 percent of victims were stepchildren, which is on the low end of the estimated proportion of U.S. children (10-20 percent) who live with a stepparent.
Among offenders, while fathers were about equally likely to kill an infant, they were more likely to be the alleged murderer of children older than a year, especially when the children were adults (fathers were the offenders in 78.3 percent of those cases). Overall, fathers were the accused murderer 57.4 percent of the time.
The data allowed the researchers to determine the most common filicide scenarios. A father killing a son was the most likely (29.5 percent of cases), a mother killing a son (22.1 percent) follows. A mother was slightly more likely to kill a daughter (19.7 percent of cases) than a father was (18.1 percent). The rarest instances were stepmothers killing either a stepson (0.5 percent) or a stepdaughter (0.3 percent).
The researchers found that the most common method of killing was with "personal weapons," such as by the beating, choking, or drowning of
|Contact: David Orenstein|