New findings published from Canadian study of parents who kill their children

September 02, 2015

A new study examining filicide in Canada has identified some possible emerging trends in these cases in research reported in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. Filicide is a term used to describe cases in which one or both parents kill their child/children. Examining aggregate patterns in more than 1,600 cases involving children under the age of 18 killed by their parents, Myrna Dawson, CSSLRV Director and author of the study, compared cases perpetrated by female and male accused. Focusing on more than a half century of these cases in Canada, Dawson identified five possible emerging trends that she argues requires further study. These trends are: (1) an increasing gender gap in accused; (2) an increasing presence of relationship breakdown; (3) a growing number of cases involving stepfathers; (4) an increase in cases involving a prior history of family violence; and (5) decreases in those accused who committed suicide following the filicide. Implications of these trends for interventions and prevention are discussed and future research priorities highlighted. Dawson is a long-time member of the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario and a recognized expert on homicide. In 2013, she delivered a keynote address identifying some of these trends as priorities for future research at the international Inaugural Addressing Filicide Conference in Prato, Italy. More recently, in June of this year, she delivered a second keynote address at the Addressing Filicide: Moving to Prevention follow-up conference, also in Italy, where she discussed the role that death review recommendations can play to identify improvements in intervention and prevention that can contribute to better responses to these cases. [More information on this study can be found at:].