infanticide in the u.s.

i came across these stats from the bureau of justice statistics while looking for something else. i thought i’d post them, even though they make me sad. =(

from Homicide Trends in the U.S. (2007) [pdf]:

infanticide rates - u.s. - graph

well that table pretty much speaks for itself.

parents are the perpetrators in most homicides of children under the age of five…

infanticide rates - u.s. - relationship with offender

…but the key thing to remember here is that the bureau includes STEPPARENTS in these figures. then you’re (naturally) gonna get the cinderella effect — mostly men getting rid of the offspring of other men.

and it is mostly men. from page 34 of the report (remember “fathers” includes stepfathers):

“Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005 —
– 31% were killed by fathers
– 29% were killed by mothers
– 23% were killed by male acquaintances
– 7% were killed by other relatives
– 3% were killed by strangers

“Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by males.”

and they’re mostly young, reproductive-age men (and women) — again, naturally. on page 23 we learn that 81.3% of the perpetrators of infanticide were between the ages of 18 and 34.

also, a gruesome fact that i posted about before: stepparents, typically, kill their stepkids (when they do kill their stepkids) in a more brutal fashion than biological parents do. =/

and … i didn’t realize … men kill more male children than female. very interesting:

infanticide rates - u.s. - by sex

males getting rid of rival males’ male offspring. fascinating.

also interesting, the younger the child, the greater the risk for infanticide:

infanticide rates - u.s. - by age

i wonder if this has to do with very young children — babies — not really having a “personality” yet? yes, i know that they do when you really know them, but you know what i mean — a five year old kid has a more … observable, noticeable … personality than a five month old. maybe it’s kinda “easier” to kill something without much personality than a little person that talks back to you? dunno.

if i were to give women any advice, i’d say be very, very careful in picking your second husband or next boyfriend/baby daddy if you’ve got a young kid(s). and i’d be extra very, very careful if picking an african american man as a second husband/boyfriend/baby daddy. if i were to give men any advice, i’d say keep a watch on your ex’s choice of any subsequent partners if you’ve had a kid(s) with her.

previously: the cinderella effect, again and more on the cinderella effect and evo psych in need of a little hbd? and killing kids & step-kids, part ii

(note: comments do not require an email. something cheerful!)

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27 Comments

  1. Killing younger children might have something to do with that the mom is likely also younger, hence will have more of her reproductive capacity remaining. This would make offing the other man’s spawn a better deal for the killing male…

    Reply

  2. @jayman – “Killing younger children might have something to do with that the mom is likely also younger, hence will have more of her reproductive capacity remaining.”

    yes, i was thinking something along those lines, too, but i didn’t manage to put it into words … so i just gave up. (~_^) thanks!

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  3. @soxy – “Any statistics for mestizo infanticide rate”

    not that i saw. they must be in the “other” category. unless some of them are mixed into the “white” category, too, as they (hispanics) often are in crime stats. *facepalm*

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  4. Frankly I doubt that many black single mothers even have the option to followyour advice. It has to be slim pickings. Maybe where they need to exercise more care is when and by whom they get knocked up in the first place.

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  5. Two comments: First, I think part of the issue with children under 1 is likely that this is the age that can be killed most easily through an emotional outburst (aka shaken baby syndrome) than older children can. The same reaction will likely not kill a child with well developed neck control.

    Second: I think you bring up some good points here about stepparents. After sitting through quite a few classes/case studies about child abuse for my degree, I most certainly would hesitate to remarry if something happened to my husband. We were told repeatedly that severe child abuse (physical or sexual) is actually quite rare in biologically related intact families (substance abuse changes this equation). Most infanticides of course are the culmination of continuous abuse, so I’d imagine these stats would look even worse if you zoomed the lens out to encompass the surrounding events.

    I should also try to dig up the study they showed that suggested that the number of kids the mom brought in to the marriage made a difference. Apparently if it’s 3 or more it’s very hard to integrate the family without some serious turmoil.

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  6. “Apparently if it’s 3 or more it’s very hard to integrate the family without some serious turmoil.”

    I saw the Brady Bunch. So true. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!

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  7. bleach’s comment reminded me of a thought that I had been having recently. Affirmative action combined with assortive mating are (if current trends continue) going to create two separate black races in the US: those who are employable enough to benefit from AA, and those who aren’t. The gap imposed by AA will be too big to cross.

    Reply

  8. I looked at these stats a little over a year ago and guessed that the rise in deaths by acquaintances must betied to the rise in illegitimacy and then if the 2 year mark, which seems to be a cut off, might be tied to parents becoming conditioned to dealing with the stress of a child. I lamented the fact that these people are killing children who can barely communicate if at all. It might be that once a kid can communicate, killing becomes a lot tougher. “Why Mommy why” may haunt a person for the rest of their life more than the unresponsive infant who sleeps 16-20 hours a day.

    http://28sherman.blogspot.com/2011/08/infanticide-stats.html

    Reply

  9. Did you look up jail sentencing if any data is available graphed along with the age of the child? I bet courts are easier on people who kill infants under a certain age.

    Reply

  10. “then you’re (naturally) gonna get the cinderella effect — mostly men getting rid of the offspring of other men.”

    It’s one of those PC myths that it’s mostly natural fathers but only if you look at the total numbers rather than the percentages – and i wonder about how often natural fathers who do it *don’t believe* they are the father. Personally i think if all children were paternity-tested at birth the number of actual natural fathers who do it would drop a great deal.

    .
    “I most certainly would hesitate to remarry if something happened to my husband”

    What i’ve been telling women for years is if they divorce and remarry then ideally it should be someone who looks as much like the father as possible – not that welcome an idea in many cases – or at least looks as much like the kids as possible.

    My anecdata is this is proportional to both how big the phenotype gap is between the the two men (nb remember the expression “beat you like a red-headed step-child”) and (obviously) how generally violent the man is. A very different but very peaceable man is probably better than a closer but more regularly violent one.

    (It seems to me if there was a move at some point in the evolutionary past from an environment where women were able to provide food completely by themselves to a male provider environment then if men in the previous environment had evolved to be exceptionally violent – for purposes of competition and selection – then they would have had to adapt to not being violent around women and kids e.g. possibly the thing about women’s and children’s tears reducing aggression. The amount of this adaptation could vary with the length of time under that environmental pressure.)

    .
    I think the age thing may be more related to ease of killing i.e. someone who doesn’t want to do it but feels a compulsion might be able to stop themselves with an older kid before it’s too late but with a little kid it’s too quick.

    .
    Luke
    “Off topic, but do women have a genetic predisposition to trade sex for resources? I am thinking the answer is yes but I have never seen it expressed in those terms.”

    Yes and no. I think they *did* have but the move into male provider environments required that it morph into a monogamous form – although the old form is still there underneath imo, for most women i think it’s equivalent to a recessive.

    Trading meat for meat makes sense in one environment – especially as it would lead to the best hunters getting the most sex – and monogamous adaptations like lurve *over the top* of that original base would also make sense in a harsher environment where a female couldn’t feed her kids on her own and a single male provider couldn’t feed more than one set of children. Having it remain underneath as a recessive provides a fail-safe in case the environment changes again.

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  11. The stewardess story makes me wonder about how much of our surface politics is actually driven by blackmail.

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  12. I think infanticide is a much greater problem among blacks than it is among whites. One reason for this is that there is generally a greater level of uncertainty over paternity among blacks than there is among whites. Men are more likely to kill if a child if they believe that it is the offspring of another man.

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  13. Quote: “Off topic, but do women have a genetic predisposition to trade sex for resources?”

    Maybe white and Asian women do, but black women seem to be more attracted to tough guys regardless of how much money they have.

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  14. @joe – “I think infanticide is a much greater problem among blacks than it is among whites. One reason for this is that there is generally a greater level of uncertainty over paternity among blacks than there is among whites.”

    yeah, that certainly probably doesn’t help matters any. plus the quick succession of baby-daddies in the lower-class black community. then you’re just asking for trouble i’m afraid. =(

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  15. @g.w. – “It’s one of those PC myths that it’s mostly natural fathers but only if you look at the total numbers rather than the percentages – and i wonder about how often natural fathers who do it *don’t believe* they are the father.

    yup. along the same lines as what joe said above.

    @g.w. – “What i’ve been telling women for years is if they divorce and remarry then ideally it should be someone who looks as much like the father as possible … or at least looks as much like the kids as possible.”

    prolly good advice. real good advice.

    @g.w. – “…remember the expression ‘beat you like a red-headed step-child’….”

    actually, i never head that before! =o

    Reply

  16. @bs king – “First, I think part of the issue with children under 1 is likely that this is the age that can be killed most easily through an emotional outburst (aka shaken baby syndrome) than older children can.”

    @g.w. – “I think the age thing may be more related to ease of killing i.e. someone who doesn’t want to do it but feels a compulsion might be able to stop themselves with an older kid before it’s too late but with a little kid it’s too quick.”

    yes — shaken baby syndrome. it can be all over with so quickly with infants. =(

    still, i think that there might be something to this, too…

    @sobl1 – “It might be that once a kid can communicate, killing becomes a lot tougher. ‘Why Mommy why’ may haunt a person for the rest of their life more than the unresponsive infant who sleeps 16-20 hours a day.”

    bit of both, maybe. =(

    Reply

  17. @sobl1 – “Did you look up jail sentencing if any data is available graphed along with the age of the child? I bet courts are easier on people who kill infants under a certain age.”

    no, i didn’t. probably won’t follow up with that, either — not my main interest — plus it’s just too depressing. =/

    Reply

  18. @bleach – “Frankly I doubt that many black single mothers even have the option to follow your advice. It has to be slim pickings. Maybe where they need to exercise more care is when and by whom they get knocked up in the first place.”

    true.

    Reply

  19. @bs king – “After sitting through quite a few classes/case studies about child abuse for my degree, I most certainly would hesitate to remarry if something happened to my husband. We were told repeatedly that severe child abuse (physical or sexual) is actually quite rare in biologically related intact families (substance abuse changes this equation).

    interesting.

    @bs king – “Most infanticides of course are the culmination of continuous abuse, so I’d imagine these stats would look even worse if you zoomed the lens out to encompass the surrounding events.”

    ugh. =/

    @bs king – I should also try to dig up the study they showed that suggested that the number of kids the mom brought in to the marriage made a difference. Apparently if it’s 3 or more it’s very hard to integrate the family without some serious turmoil.”

    yes, that’d be interesting to see. thanks for your thoughtful comments!

    Reply

  20. @g.w. – “The stewardess story makes me wonder about how much of our surface politics is actually driven by blackmail.”

    in my carbon analogy there is also a layer of graphene. imagine if the graphene caused atoms to migrate from the carbon diamond crystal – it would appear to onlookers as if the crystal structure were disintegrating ‘of its own accord’, because graphene is invisible.

    Reply

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