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NCJ Number: 168860 Find in a Library
Title: Infanticide: A Crime of Desperation
Journal: Criminologist  Volume:21  Issue:2  Dated:Summer 1997  Pages:81-92
Author(s): L F Lowenstein
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This literature review of the research on infanticide focuses on its causes and categories as well as case management and prevention.
Abstract: Infanticide has occurred throughout history, and there is apparently an inverse relationship between the frequency of abortion and the frequency of infanticide. Most murdered children are under the age of 12, and adults who commit these acts typically deny having done so, preferring to believe their own lie. There is an international aspect to infanticide, with many cases occurring in countries such as India, China, Western Europe, the United States, and France. Social stigmas and overpopulation may play a part in this pattern. In the past, however, abandonment of unwanted children was practiced rather than infanticide. By far the most common type of filicide and infanticide is that of mothers who batter their children, followed by mentally ill mothers, then cases of retaliation against the former father or partner through the killing of a child, and finally the killing of unwanted children. Among the most common mental illnesses associated with infanticide are depression and psychotic illnesses. Mothers who commit such acts often have histories of maltreatment in their own early lives. The prevention of infanticide has received little attention in the literature. Social services departments could do much more to protect young children by providing help for mothers and fathers likely to be faced with excessive stress during the children's early life. Issues such as family violence and deprivation of basic needs must receive more attention from social service agencies. It is also vital to provide parents with sufficient support, especially those with handicapped children and those families where there is a statistically high infant mortality rate due to abuse and neglect. 35 references
Main Term(s): Child victims
Index Term(s): Child abuse causes; Child abuse fatalities; Homicide causes; Infanticide
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