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Child Homicides Up Across Several Subpopulations

Children ≤10 years often victims perpetrated by parents/caregivers, while children ≥11 years more often perpetrated by friends/acquaintances

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Rates of child homicide recently increased across several subpopulations, with some racial and ethnic disparities persisting for more than 20 years, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Rebecca F. Wilson, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues examined trends in child homicide rates and characteristics most commonly associated with these deaths. Analysis included National Vital Statistics System WONDER mortality data for 38,362 homicide victims (aged 0 to 17 years for 1999 to 2020) and National Violent Death Reporting System data for child homicide victims (2003 to 2019 in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico).

The researchers identified 38,362 homicide victims (69.4 percent male). There were annual increases in the overall child homicide rate, with average annual increases of 4.3 percent since 2013, but with a precipitous rise from 2019 to 2020 (2019 rate: 2.2 per 100,000 children; 2020 rate: 2.8 per 100 000 children; overall increase of 27.7 percent). There were significant recent increases observed in homicide rates for boys (2018 rate versus 2020 rate: 16.1 percent), 6- to 10-year-olds (2014 versus 2020 rate: 5.6 percent), 11- to 15-year-olds (2018 versus 2020 rate: 26.9 percent), 16- to 17-year-olds (2018 versus 2020 rate: 19.0 percent), Black children (2018 versus 2020 rate: 16.6 percent), Hispanic children (2014 versus 2020 rate: 4.7 percent), children in the South (2013 versus 2020 rate: 6.4 percent), and children in rural (2011 versus 2020 rate: 3.2 percent) and urban areas (2013 versus 2020 rate: 4.4 percent). Homicides of children ≤10 years were most commonly precipitated by abuse/neglect and perpetrated by parents/caregivers, while homicides of 11- to 17-year-olds were most commonly precipitated by crime and arguments and perpetrated especially by friends and acquaintances.

“The decline in homicide rates for some geographic and child demographic groups is encouraging; however, rates recently increased across several subpopulations, with some racial and ethnic disparities persisting for more than 20 years,” the authors write.

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