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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1983 Jun;4(2):129-37.

Homicide in childhood. Distinguishable patterns of risk related to developmental levels of victims.


To study the characteristics of homicide in childhood, a review was done of the 29 medical examiner-autopsied children under 10 years of age who died under suspicious circumstances in Cook County in the first half of 1981 (17 by homicide, 12 by manner undetermined). Eleven cases occurred in January. The city victims came from neighborhoods characterized by poverty and female-headed households, consistent with the ecological model of child abuse. Eleven victims were infants: seven female, five white. The older victims were increasingly male and black with increasing age. Mean ages differed markedly for different types of injuries, with CNS and miscellaneous injuries typical in infancy, arson and beatings in toddler/preschool ages, and gunshot and pedestrian injuries in the school years. The data suggest that there are three clinically distinguishable types of homicide in childhood--infanticide, fatal child abuse and neglect after infancy, and murder in the community--related to developmental characteristics of the victims.

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