• May/June 2001
  • Vol. 2, No. 3

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Department of Justice Reports Decline in Infanticide

Infanticide, on the rise for the past two decades, recently declined according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

DOJ recently released a series of charts describing homicide patterns and trends in the United States from 1976 to 1999, including rates of infanticide, or the murder of a child younger than 5.

BJS reports that over the past 20 years

  • Rates of infanticide for black children have fluctuated but currently are lower than in earlier years
  • Rates for white children have remained stable
  • Rates for children of other racial groups have declined.

Most victims of infanticide are killed by their parents. Of children killed by someone other than a parent, 82 percent were killed by males.

The statistics indicate that the younger the child, the greater the risk of infanticide. The rates for children age 1 and younger increased in the early 1990s while the rate for older children has remained constant. Infanticide of children younger than 1 has declined only recently.

Complete figures are available on the BJS website at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs.

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