A parent killing a child happens more often than we think
Updated 3:01 PM ET, Fri July 7, 2017
(CNN)It's the most unfathomable of crimes: a parent killing their own child. It grabs headlines when it happens -- like this week in Georgia, where a mom is accused of stabbing four of her children to death. The reality is, filicides happen with depressing regularity in the US. And mothers are almost as likely to be the killers as fathers.
- Almost 72% of those killed by their own parents were 6 years old or younger.
- And one-third of the victims were just babies under 1 year of age.
- Parents used what the study called "personal weapons" to beat, choke or drown victims in the majority of cases involving underage kids.
- If the victims were adults, parents used guns in 72% of such killings.
There are several reasons why
- Altruism: The parent kills the child because he or she may perceive it to be in the child's best interest. It may be reality-based (e.g., the child suffers from a terminal illness) or precede the suicide of the parent, as the parent feels it would be unfair to leave the child behind to face the cruel world.
- Acute psychosis: The parent kills the child based on ideas that are inconsistent with reality. For example, the parent believes the child has been possessed by the devil.
- Unwanted child: The parent kills the child that he or she regards as a hindrance.
- Accidental: The child's death is an unintentional outcome of parental physical abuse.
- Spousal revenge: The parent kills the child in an effort to exact revenge on the other parent.