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Lecture 8

SOC 2700 Lecture 8: Week 8

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Reza Barmaki

• How the stories you found on children who kill are portrayed in terms of the motives represented or the explanations given for these crimes. • How does what you have learned in this unit about children who are killed compare to the findings of these inquests? What theoretical explanations contribute the most to our understanding of this type of homicide? “Bourget, Dominique, Jennifer Grace, and Laurie Whitehurst. 2007. A review of maternal and paternal filicide. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 35: 74-82.” - The terms filicide, neonaticide and infanticide have been used interchangeably in the literature on child homicide - Filicide is the murder of a child by a parent, where neonaticide specifies the killing of a child on the day of birth - Infanticide is the killing of a child under the age of 12 months by a mother who has not fully recovered from the effects of pregnancy and lactation and suffers some degree of mental disturbance - Filicide is rare. In Canada in 2004, 27 children were killed by their parents - Mothers and fathers were equally responsible for killing their children. The parent committed suicide in over one firth of this incidents (22%) Classifying Filicide - There is a classification to show why there is an impulse for a parents homicidal act - Resnickwas the first to propose a classification based on movtive: altruism, acute psychosis, unwanted child, accident and spousal revenge. - In this model: o Altruistic filicide is characterized by the motive of relieving the child of real or imagined suffering an includes murder associated ith suicide o Acutely psychotic filicide involves parents who kill under the influence of severe mental illness o In unwanted child filicide, the victim was never or is no longer desired by the parents. These filicides are committed due to illegitimacy or uncertain paternity o Accidental filicide is unintentional death due to child abuse, generally following battered child syndrome o Spousal revenge filicide describes children who killed to retaliate against or punish the parents mate - Subsequent models proposed by Scott and d’ Orban focused on categorizing filicidal women with regard to the source of the impulse to kill the child – they added categories of battering mothers, mentally ill mothers, retaliating women, unwanted children and mercy killing - Battering mother kill their children in an impulsive act stemming from the victims behavior, whereas retaliating women displace aggression from the mate onto the child - Mentally ill mothers have some psychotic illness or depression - Unwanted children are killed by the mothers passive neglect or active aggression and mercy killing - Guileyard suggested a classification of filicides into 16 subtypes, assessed on selection of the primary motive or cause. - Bourget and Bradford proposed 5 major categories: pathological filicide, accidental filicide, retaliating filicide, neonaticide, and paternal filicide.  Pathological filicide refers to cases in which the perpetrator most likely has a psychiatric illness – the filicide has psychotic or altruistic motives and includes homicide suicide  Accidental filicide includes death due to various forms of child abuse, including battered child syndrome  Retaliating filicide is the murder of a child to punish a spouse  Neonaticide is the result of an unwanted pregnancy - One problem in in classifying these filicides is that there is often an overlap between categories. - All types of filicide are specified as being either with ot without intent, the conscious desire to kill. - Fatal abuse filicide includes cases of child neglect and battered and shaken baby syndromes. This type of filicide is committed without specific intent and the even cannot meet the criteria for mental ill filicide - Mercy filicide is also committed with specific intent to kill and occurs when the child has a severe, debating illness.- - This classification system allows he inclusion of more specific information related to each cases needed, General Characteristics of Filcide - It is associated with various victim and perpetrator characteristics - The first year of life appears to represent a critical period, with the risk greatest on the first week of life. Wile mothers are overrepresented in cases in cases of infanticide, filicides that occur after the first week of life are often committed by the father or stepfather, with fathers being the most frequent perpetrators of filicide in later childhood - Neonaticides involve an equal number of male and female victims. - Boys are overrepresented in victims between the ages of 4 and 15 years of age, but others have reported equal numbers of male and female filicide victims - There is an indication between filicide and parental psychiatric illness with major depression with psychotic features most common – 31 percent of parents who committed filicide has a diagnosis of major depression, compared with non of the perpetrators of non parental homicide - Homicidal parents have high rates of suicide attempts, which are often serious and successful. Parents are more likely to commit suicide after killing older children - Fatal abuse filicide is generally regarded as accidental and not premeditated; thus the ultimate accidental death of the child is not the motive for the abuse - Victims of fatal abuse are often young, unwanted children - Mental illness is a significant finding in homicide suicide cases Maternal Filicide - Women who commit neonaticide are typically younger, often unmarried, often deny or conceal their pregnancies, have a lack of prenatal care and have no plan for the care of the child - A marked risk factor for infant homicide was a second born to a mother under age of 20 - The major factor for the motivation of neonaticide is the undesirability od the child - Women who commit neonaticide evidence less depression, psychotic illness, or suicidal attempts than do mothers who have killed an older child and are less likely to be hospitalized than those who commit filicide - Mothers who commit filicide tend to be married and to report high levels od tress and a lack od support and resources at the time of the offense - multiple psychosocial stressors as motivating factors for maternal filicide have been identified, including being the primary caregiver for at least one child, unemployment\financial problems on going abusive adult relationships, conflict with family members and limited social support - Social isolation has alo been noted as a factor common in women who have killed their children - Depression or psychotic illness typifies mothers who killed older children - Personality disorders and intense psychosocial stress at the time of the fatal abuse are common - Parental separation in childhood and marital violence have been identified as cofactors in fatal child abuse by mothers, and many perpetrators of fatal abuse have a history of abuse in their childhood Mental Illness in Maternal Filicide - The prevalence of serious mental disorders has been noted often in studies of maternal filicde, with depression
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