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J Forensic Sci. 2009 Mar;54(2):463-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00964.x. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Fathers who kill their children: an analysis of the literature.

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Department of Psychiatry, University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Roughly half of filicidal acts are committed by fathers, though the majority of the literature focuses on maternal filicide. This paper reviews the existing literature on paternal filicide with the goal of identifying characteristics common among these fathers. Fathers who killed their children were, on average, in their mid thirties. The mean age of their victims was five. They may have multiple victims. Sons and daughters were killed in equal numbers. Reasons included death related to abuse, mental illness (including psychosis and depression), and revenge against a spouse. The method often involved wounding violence. Suicide following the act occurred frequently. After being tried for their crimes, filicidal fathers were more frequently incarcerated than hospitalized. Given the range of those capable of this act, mental health professionals must be alert to the possibility of filicide in a variety of fathers. Considering this risk, clinicians should inquire about thoughts of harming children, partners, and themselves.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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