Child Victims of Crime: Assessing the Theoretical Importance of Gender, Age and Social Context in the Study of Homicide

Christine Alder, University of Melbourne

Drawing upon data for all child homicides reported in the state of Victoria, Australia (N=90), a widely divergent patterns of child victimisation for homicide, depending upon the social context of the violence, the age of the victim, the gender of the offender, and for older victims, the gender of the victim As such, this form of violence requires a careful description of the especially significant factor of gender. While it has been well established that a distinctive feature of child homicide is that women make up a large proportion of the offenders (over half in some investigations), what the present paper makes clear is that the gender distribution is highly sensitive to social context, in some forms of child homicide virtually all of the offenders are female, whereas in others the offenders are nearly all male. . This paper goes on to argue that such findings demonstrate the critical theoretical importance of understanding the interactions of social context and gender in the investigation of homicide, calling for forms of analysis not commonly seen in much of American studies of homicide in general, and child homicide in particular.

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Updated 05/20/2006