A parent killing a child happens more often than we think

Updated 3:01 PM ET, Fri July 7, 2017

Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.

(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.

Of course we're shocked whenever we hear about a parent taking the life of their own children. Think Andrea Yates or Susan Smith. But what's even more shocking (and sad) is that this type of crime happens a lot. A study in the journal Forensic Science International looked at three decades worth of filicide cases (between 1976 and 2007) and found they occurred about 500 times a year in the US.
  • 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.
But more than 13% of the victims were adults, specifically people in ages running from 18 to 40 years old. So the threat of filicide doesn't go away when people get old enough to move out on their own.