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Child murder is the subject that no sane person ever wants to think about. But the unfortunate truth is that homicides are committed against children and adults alike. The following facts and statistics will help shed light on these tragic cases.

Child Murder Facts:

1. Child abuse homicides
Most murders involving younger children are accidental child abuse homicides. Around 1,500-2000 children are murdered each year in the U.S. in this fashion, most of them killed at the hands of a parent.

2. Who murders children
Most child homicide victims are murdered by their parents, either as a consequence of abuse, because they’re planning a murder-suicide, or are involved in a bitter divorce and decide to murder children out of spite to hurt their ex. Gang violence comes in second, with children targeted by gang members or accidentally killed in crossfire. Next comes family members, followed by neighbors and people in the broader community.

Why children & teens are murdered:
The common causes

Here is a look at why children are murdered, ranked in order from the most common to the least common in any typical year:

  1. Child abuse homicides (neglect or physical abuse): Roughly 1,500-2,0000 per year
  2. Gang violence/peer aggression: Roughly 1,500-2,000 per year
  3. Unintended victims of gun violence (children caught in crossfire or hit by stray bullets): Roughly 300-500 cases per year
  4. Murder-suicides, typically by a parent or family member: Roughly 200-300 per year
  5. Murders committed in service to another crime (arson, home invasions, or to eliminate a child witness): Roughly 100 per year
  6. Abduction murders (multiple motives, mostly teen victims): Roughly 40-60 per year
  7. Revenge against a partner/vindictive custody fights: Roughly 2-3 dozen per year
  8. Substance abuse & insanity (murdering a child while hallucinating on drugs or because they believe a child is the devil and God ordered them to do it): Roughly 2-3 dozen deaths per year.
  9. School shootings: Roughly 20-40 deaths per year.

Child Murder Statistics

  1. Although they receive a lot of media attention, school-related shootings account for less than 2% of all youth homicide deaths in the United States. (Abbott, 10-17-2019)
  2. 85% of all youth murders are carried out with a firearm. (Bernard, Paulozzi & Wallace, 2007; excluding child abuse deaths)
  3. Gun violence takes the life of a child in the U.S every hour. (Grossman & DeGaetano, _____)
  4. A child in Chicago or Washington, D.C. is 15-times more likely to be murdered than a child in Northern Ireland. (ibid)

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