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Scand J Public Health. 2012 Aug;40(6):563-70. doi: 10.1177/1403494812455731. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

Weapons used in serious violence against a parent: retrospective comparative register study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry,University of Oulu, Finland.



Our aim was to compare the weapons used in lethal or potentially lethal violence against parents according to the age (adolescent vs. adult) of the offender and victim (mother vs. father) of the offence.


All forensic psychiatric examination statements of male offenders who had offended violently against one of their parents during 1973-2004 in Finland (n=192) were reviewed retrospectively. Data on the weapons used by adolescent and adult offenders in relation to the sex of the victim, mental disorder, criminal responsibility and intelligence were gathered.


In the whole sample, sharp-edged weapons were the most commonly used weapons. Firearms were more commonly used in offences against fathers (i.e. patricidal offences) than against mothers (i.e. matricidal offences). Adolescent offenders were more likely to use firearms than adult offenders in violent acts against a parent. Among personality-disordered subjects, patricidal offenders used firearms more commonly than did matricidal offenders. Homicidal matricidal offenders had higher full-scale and verbal IQ scores as compared to homicidal patricidal offenders. The matricidal offenders using firearms were shown to be more intelligent as measured by full-scale and verbal scale IQs than the patricidal offenders using firearms.


Consistent with the physical strength hypothesis, firearms are used more often in lethal or potentially lethal violence against parents by adolescents than by adults in Finland. As firearms legislation in Finland is currently under reform the study findings suggest that restriction of gun availability may have an influence on intrafamilial homicides, particularly those committed by adolescents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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