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Note: Varies by jurisdiction
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
|By victim or victims|
Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own child. The word filicide is derived from the Latin words filius and filia (son and daughter) and the suffix -cide, meaning to kill, murder, or cause death. The word can refer both to the crime and to the perpetrator of the crime.
A 1999 U.S. Department of Justice study concluded that mothers were responsible for a higher share of children killed during infancy between 1976 and 1997 in the United States, while fathers were more likely to have been responsible for the murders of children aged eight or older. Furthermore, 58-percent of the children who were killed by their mothers (maternal filicide) were female, while 42-percent of the children who were killed by their fathers (paternal filicide) were male. Parents were responsible for 61-percent of child murders under the age of five. Sometimes, there is a combination of murder and suicide in filicide cases. On average, according to FBI statistics, 450 children are murdered by their parents each year in the United States.
An in-depth longitudinal study of 297 cases convicted of filicide and 45 of filicide-suicide in the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2006 showed that 37% of the perpetrators had a recorded mental illness at the time. The most common diagnoses were mood disorders and personality disorders rather than psychosis, but the latter accounted for 15% of cases. However - similar to findings in a large Danish study - the majority had not had contact with mental health services prior to the murders, and few had received treatment. Female perpetrators were more likely to have given birth as teenagers. Fathers were more likely to have been convicted of violent offences and have a history of substance misuse, and were more likely to kill multiple victims. Infants were more likely to be victims than older children, and a link to post-partum depression was suggested.
Types of filicide
Dr. Phillip Resnick published research on filicide in 1969 and stated that there were five main motives for filicide, including "altruistic," "fatal maltreatment," "unwanted child," and "spousal revenge." "Altruistic" killings occur because the parent believes that the world is too cruel for the child, or because the child is enduring suffering (whether this is actually occurring or not). In fatal maltreatment killings, the goal is not always to kill the child, but death may occur anyway, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy is in that category. Spousal revenge killings are killings of children done to indirectly harm a domestic partner; they do not frequently occur. Glen Carruthers, author of "Making sense of spousal revenge filicide," argued that those who engage in spousal revenge killings see their own children as objects.
Children at risk
In the United States, homicide is in the top five causes of deaths of children, and in the top three causes of death in children between 1 and 4 years old.[year needed] A direct correlation has been identified between child abuse rates and child homicide rates. Research suggests that children who are murdered by their parents were physically abused victims prior to death.
- Feticide, the killing of a fetus
- Neonaticide, the killing of a child during the first 24 hours of life
- Infanticide, the killing of an infant from birth to 12 months
- Child murder, the murder of a child in general
- Filial cruelty, cruelty toward one's own child
- Child cruelty, cruelty toward an unrelated child
- Avunculicide, the killing of one's uncle
- Fratricide, the killing of one's brother
- Mariticide, the killing of one's husband
- Matricide, the killing of one's mother
- Nepoticide, the killing of one's nephew
- Parricide, the killing of one's parents or another close relative
- Patricide, the killing of one's father
- Prolicide, the killing of one's offspring
- Sororicide, the killing of one's sister
- Uxoricide, the killing of one's wife or girlfriend
- Greenfeld, Lawrence A.; Snell, Tracy L. (2000-03-10). "Women Offenders" (PDF). NCJ 175688. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
- Friedman, S. H.; Horwitz, S. M.; Resnick, P. J. (2005). "Child murder by mothers: A critical analysis of the current state of knowledge and a research agenda". Am J Psychiatry. 162 (9): 1578–1587. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.9.1578. PMID 16135615.
- USA Today. Parents who do the unthinkable -- kill their children
- "Findings from most in-depth study into UK parents who kill their children". University of Manchester. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- "Spousal revenge rare motive for killing kids, experts say". CTV News. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- Carruthers, Glen (July–August 2016). "Making sense of spousal revenge filicide". Aggression and Violent Behavior. 29: 30–35. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2016.05.007.
- Holmes, Ronald M.; Holmes, Stephen T. (2001). Murder in America. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc. p. 116.
- Douglas, John; Olshaker, Mark (1996). Journey Into Darkness. United Kingdom: Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-749-32394-3.
- Meyer, Cheryl; Oberman, Michelle; White, Kelly (2001). Mothers who Kill Their Children. New York University Press. ISBN 0-814-75643-3
- Rascovsky, Arnaldo (1995). Filicide: The Murder, Humiliation, Mutilation, Denigration, and Abandonment of Children by Parents. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-568-21456-6.