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Felony murder
Consensual homicide
Negligent homicide
Vehicular homicide
Honour killing
Ritual murder
Proxy murder
Torture murder
Spree killer
Child murder
Lust murder
Mass murder
Serial killer
Human sacrifice
In English law
Non-criminal homicide
Justifiable homicide
Capital punishment
Other types of homicide
Note: for practices of systematically killing very young children, see infanticide. For the killing of one's own children, see filicide.

The murder of children is considered a particularly abhorrent crime in most societies;[How to reference and link to summary or text] they are perceived within their communities and the state at large as being vulnerable,[How to reference and link to summary or text] and therefore especially susceptible to abduction and murder. The protection of children from abuse and possible death often involves disturbing the child's family structure, as tenuous as this may be.


By family members vs. by strangers

Most murderers of children are relatives, acquaintances or caretakers.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Younger children are relatively speaking more likely to be murdered by a relative.

The killing of children is often closely related to instances of prolonged periods of child abuse. Some victims are murdered by parents as part of a murder-suicide. Parents sometimes begin administering corporal punishment that quickly escalates into severe abuse and occasionally murder, as, for example, in the Victoria Climbié case which occurred in London.

A number of murderers of children are pedophiles who commit lust murder or kill to cover up their other crimes. These latter cases are more notorious, although killings by family members are more common.

In the U.K. the number of child homicides has averaged 79 a year for the last 28 years. The Home Office also provides unpublished figures on the relationship between the child victims of homicide in any one year and the principal suspect. Latest figures for 2000/2001 show that parents were the principal suspect in 78 per cent of child homicides. [1]

There have been a number of moral panics related to child murder, of which the most notable is the satanic ritual abuse phenomenon, where reports of organized killings of large numbers of children by satanic gangs have failed to be corroborated in spite of decades of investigation.

These moral panics have tended to obscure those rare cases where actual pedophile gangs have acted to prey upon children.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Several cases of exorcism carried out by family members or religious groups have resulted in the murders of children.[2][3]

By other children

In most countries, there are very few cases where children are killed by other young children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics for 1996,[4] one in five murders of children are committed by other children. Several murders by children have gained prominent media exposure. One was the killing on February 12, 1993 of the almost three-year-old boy James Bulger by two ten-year-old boys in Liverpool, England. He was beaten and stoned before his unconscious body was left on train tracks to make it look like a train hit him. Also, in 1968 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England there was the trial of 10-year old Mary Bell. She was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility in the deaths of toddlers Martin Brown and Brian Howe. She was released in 1980 at the age of 23.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Although the United States certainly has an unusually high number of killings of children by other children, it is most often the case that the perpetrators and victims are teenagers, rather than young children. In many such cases, the youthful perpetrator is tried as an adult for their crime.

In 1992, after the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Dantrell Davis as he left the Cabrini-Green public housing project for school, the Chicago Tribune put every child murder on the front page (generally no murders were front page news). 62 child murders were reported that year.

File:William York killing Susan Matthew.JPG

18th century illustration of William York, age 10, murdering Susan Matthew, age 5, on May 13, 1748, from The Newgate Calendar.

Multiple deaths in one incident, such as the 1999 Columbine High School massacre tend to gather the most media attention but are statistically scarce.

Genocide and child soldiers

Main article: Military use of children

The military use of children refers to children being placed in harm's way in military actions, in order to protect a location or provide propaganda. This is sometimes referred to as child sacrifice, though not equivalent to the religious variety. It may also refer to the use of children as child soldiers or saboteurs.

Muti killings

Muti is a practice of human sacrifice and mutilation associated with some traditional cultural practices, such as Sangoma, in South Africa. Victims of muti killings are often children. An unknown child (referred to as Adam), whose decapitated torso was found in the River Thames in London in 2001 is believed to have been the victim of a muti killing.[5]

  • In historical stories
    • Albert Fish
    • Bloody Mary
    • Empress Wu of China
    • Gilles de Rais
    • Hansel and Gretel
    • La Llorona
    • Maria Goretti (canonised as a saint)
    • Massacre of the Innocents
    • Medea

See also


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