Summary July 10, 1994 (updated June 2000)
FAMILY VIOLENCE <> FV 118
CONTACT: Men's Health Network : Washington, D.C. DV@menshealthnetwork.org
Report Reflects Dual Nature of Spousal Homicide Mothers Most Likely to
Murder Their Children
issued today by the Department of Justice indicates that men and women
are equally capable of committing spousal homicide. The study consists
of a sampling from the 75 largest counties representing over 1/2 of the
murders in the country, and excludes cases where no charges were filed
because of credible claims of self defense or other excuse. The murders
were committed in 1988 or earlier and at least one murder defendant in
the case was disposed by the court in 1988. Not included are cases of
negligent manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or attempted murder.
If a parent
murdered his or her child:
- the murderer
was most often the mother (55%) rather than the father (45%) (pg. 1)
- 78% of
the child victims were 11 years of age or younger (pg. 6)
killed sons (64%) more often than they killed daughters (36%) (pp. 1,
killed sons (48%) and daughters (52%) with approximately equal frequency
(pp. 1, 4)
- the murder
was preceded by child abuse in 79% of the cases (pg. 5)
those persons charged with murder are counted, data reveals that:
- 41% of
the murderers were women who killed their husbands (pg. 1)
- 59% were
men who killed their wives (pg. 1)
- 56% of
defendants had a prior criminal record (pg. 1)
- 53% of
the killers were men who killed their wives (pg. 1)
- 47% were
women who killed their husbands (pg. 1)
living in abusive families should be monitored more closely with priority
given to those children whose parents have a criminal record.
must recognize that women are equal partners in the cycle of family
must begin to order treatment for women who commit an act of family
must be taught methods to discipline young children without resorting
must learn disciplinary techniques which recognize that boys are as
fragile as girls.
Murder in Families.
- Some infant
and young child deaths might usually be included in this group, but
are omitted from NCJ-143498.
- It is
unclear whether the data reflect women who hire or entice someone to
kill their spouse, a rather common phenomena.
- If the
data do not, then including those women would give a ratio nearer 50-50.