Maternal filicide: a cross-national comparison

J Clin Psychol. 1998 Aug;54(5):679-87. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4679(199808)54:5<679::aid-jclp14>;2-a.


The present study is a review of 20 adult women charged with murdering their children who were referred to a forensic psychiatric hospital for pretrial evaluation. This study compares the demographic, historical, clinical, forensic, and offense characteristics of these women and their victims to samples of multinational, British, and Canadian filicidal women. The data depict a subset of women who suffered from a diagnosable mental disorder and were contending with many acute stressors in their lives with apparently insufficient personal resources or systemic support. The consistency of characteristics across countries suggests that women who kill their children are nonaddicted, married, low-income, mentally ill, new or recent mothers under 30 who, acting alone and without weapons, kill only one of their children, likely of preschool age.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / ethnology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Criminal Psychology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Family Health / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Homicide / classification
  • Homicide / ethnology
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infanticide / ethnology
  • Infanticide / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology