Shocking figures from the Queensland government have revealed that 109 children have been murdered by a parent or guardian in the past 16 years, with 75 percent of the victims being under the age of five.
New research by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) has shed light on the warning signs that could lead a parent or caregiver to kill their child, an act known as filicide.
Family violence, alcohol and substance abuse were identified as major risk factors, said QFCC Chief Commissioner Luke Twyford.
Researchers from the University of Queensland analyzed data on child deaths in the QFCC between 2004 and 2020 to arrive at their conclusions.
Twyford said 109 children were murdered by a parent or guardian between 2004 and 2020.
That’s roughly the equivalent of nearly seven children being murdered every year.
Worryingly, Mr. Twyford said exposure to domestic or family violence and alcohol and substance abuse occurred in nearly half of the philicides surveyed by researchers.
“Parent separation was also identified as a major risk factor, especially when a filicide event was committed by a father motivated by anger toward their former partner,” he said.
“The study revealed an increasing risk to a child when a parent threatens to kill, regardless of whether other risk factors are present, indicating that any threat should always be taken seriously and investigated.
“While the presence of these factors does not mean that a filicide event is inevitable, this study confirms that risk factors cannot be ignored when considering a child’s safety.”
In their final report, the QFCC identified fathers as responsible for 34 of these infanticide events.
Mothers were responsible for 28 of these events, while only three filicides involved both parents.
“The death of a child is a tragedy, but when it happens at the hands of a parent or caregiver it is particularly shocking and we wonder how warning signs were missed,” said Mr Twyford.
Mr Twyford said more research was needed to better understand the phenomena of filicides and help authorities “find the possibilities that will help us save a child from death”.