Pedicide, child murder, child manslaughter, or child homicide is the homicide of an individual who is a minor. It is often considered a gruesome form of aggravated homicide.
In 2008, there were 1,494 child homicides in the United States. Of those killed, 1,035 were male and 452 were female.
Several U.S. states have included child murder to their list of aggravating factors that may make a murder punishable by the death penalty, but the victim's age under which the crime is a capital crime varies between them. In 2011, Texas raised this age from six to ten.
Child manslaughter can result in an aggravated charge in some jurisdictions such as the State of Florida.
Any murder in the United Kingdom carries a mandatory life sentence. In England and Wales, murder of a child involving sexual or sadistic conduct or abduction of the victim can result in a whole life order (i.e. life imprisonment without the possibility of parole) being imposed where the offender is at least 21 years old. Sentencing guidelines state that where the offender is under 21, the starting point is a minimum term of 30 years.
In most countries, there are very few cases where children are killed by other children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics for 1996, one in five murders of children were committed by other children. Several murders by children have gained prominent media exposure. One was the killing on 12 February 1993 of the 2-year-old boy James Bulger by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables who were both 10 years old in Bootle, Merseyside, England. He was beaten and stoned before his unconscious body was left on train tracks to give the impression that a train had hit him. Bulger's killers became the youngest convicted murderers in the modern history of the United Kingdom. Another notable case in the UK occurred in 1968 in Newcastle upon Tyne, when 10 year old Mary Bell was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility in the deaths of toddlers Martin Brown and Brian Howe. She was released in 1980 at the age of 23. In 1998, 8 year old Madelyn Clifton was killed by 14 year old Josh Phillips.
Children, especially infants, have been killed on purpose by medical professionals. Katherine Ramsland, an expert in serial killers, believes predatory offenders may view healthcare agencies as "places of trust" where they have advantages. While other killers may decide to reduce the workload, or set someone up out of spite, or get God complex and think they are helping their victims, or be seeking attention, self-empowerment, and thrill. In one such case, neonatal nurse Lucy Letby was accused of killing at least 7 infants between June 2015 to 2016 at the Countess of Chester Hospital and attempting to kill a further 10 more.
In 1992, after the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Dantrell Davis as he left the Cabrini–Green public housing project for school, the Chicago Tribune put every child murder on the front page (generally no murders were front-page news). 62 child murders were reported that year.
Multiple deaths in one incident, such as the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, tend to gather the most media attention but are statistically scarce.
The military use of children refers to children being placed in harm's way in military actions, in order to protect a location or provide propaganda. This is sometimes referred to as child sacrifice, though not equivalent to the religious variety. It may also refer to the use of children as child soldiers or saboteurs.
Red Hand Day on February 12 is an annual commemoration day to draw public attention to the practice of using children as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts.
Medicine murder (often referred to as muti killing) is a practice of human sacrifice and mutilation associated with traditional medicinal practices, such as Muti. Victims of muti killings are often children. Organs and/or body parts are usually taken while the child is still alive. An unknown child (referred to as Adam), whose decapitated torso was found in the River Thames in London in 2002 is believed to have been the victim of a muti killing.
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