Circumstances of Lethal Violence for Infants and Children in Chicago, 1965-1995

Kimberly A. Vogt, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Carolyn Rebecca Block, Illinois Crim Justice Info Authority

This paper will discuss the patterns and circumstances of homicide victimization and offending in Chicago for infants and children for the years 1965-1995. Risk patterns for homicide victims in infancy (0-11 months), pre-school (1-4 years), and young children (aged 5-9 and 10-14) will be examined by sex of the victim, race/ethnicity of the victim, victim/offender relationship, offender characteristics, and circumstances surrounding the death. The study finds that there are no gender differences in infant victims but an increasing risk of victimization for males in older age groups. Victim/offender relationship also differs, with virtually all infant, and pre-school homicide victims being killed by a parent or caretaker. Circumstances surrounding the deaths of infants and pre-school age children are predominantly child abuse or adult intimate partner conflict related. In older age groups, the circumstances become more varied with an increase in acquaintance and stranger homicide. Risk patterns for homicide offenders are examined for very young children (under age 9), pre-teens (10-12 yrs.), and young teenagers (13-14 yrs.). For all age groups, offenders are predominantly male. Very young children and pre-teens often kill their siblings. Access to firearms is a concern for offenders in all age groups.

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Updated 05/20/2006