Intra-familial child homicide in Finland 1970-1994: incidence, causes of death and demographic characteristics

Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Apr 1;117(3):199-204. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(00)00408-4.


The purpose of this study was to investigate all child homicides for the 25-year period, 1970-1994 in Finland and to analyse the specific characteristics of the filicide cases. A total of 292 child homicides occurred during this period. In 201 (69%) cases the offender was a parent or a stepparent of the child. Altogether, 173 (59%) of the victims were boys and 119 (41%) were girls. For the closer examination of the filicide cases we excluded the neonaticide and homicide-suicide cases. Consequently, we report on 70 filicide victims. Of these victims, 42 (60%) were boys and 28 (40%) were girls. Twenty six (37%) of the children were killed before the age of 1 year and 53 (79%) before the age of 5 years. The offender was the mother in 43 (61%) cases and the father or the stepfather in 26 (37%) cases. The victims of the mothers were younger than those of the fathers. The most frequent causes of death were head injuries, drowning and suffocation. The most common means of assault were battering, drowning and strangulation. One in two of the fatally battered children had a documented history of previous abuse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution