Article

Effectiveness of Risk Assessment Tools in Differentiating Child Homicides From Other Domestic Homicide Cases

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

A retrospective case analysis of 40 domestic homicides was conducted to determine if risk assessment tools currently being used for adult victims of domestic violence (DA, ODARA, and B-SAFER) are of value in identifying a child's risk for lethality in the context of domestic violence. Child homicides were compared to cases where a mother was killed but the children were not targeted. Results revealed no differences between the two groups in terms of the risk assessment tools. One item on the Danger Assessment and one item on the B-SAFER were significantly associated with child homicide cases. Implications for professionals around assessing risk of lethality for children living with domestic violence and developing safety plans that include the children are discussed.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Risk assessment tools have predominantly been informed by risk factors associated with DFV escalating into fatal outcomes (Olszowy et al., 2013). It has been suggested that deaths occurring in the context of DFV and/or related relationship separation are the most preventable form of homicides due to their association with a wide range of identifiable risk factors. ...
... There are other forms of risk assessment available, including the original Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA), which informed both the ODARA as well as the B-SAFER. In addition, other assessment tools are often adapted from the ones mentioned here by different agencies or service areas to meet specific service or client needs (Campbell et al., 2003;Olszowy et al., 2013). We chose the ones discussed here due to their evidence-based nature and their suitability across a range of service settings without requiring clinical administration and assessment skills (Campbell et al., 2009;Olszowy et al., 2013). ...
... In addition, other assessment tools are often adapted from the ones mentioned here by different agencies or service areas to meet specific service or client needs (Campbell et al., 2003;Olszowy et al., 2013). We chose the ones discussed here due to their evidence-based nature and their suitability across a range of service settings without requiring clinical administration and assessment skills (Campbell et al., 2009;Olszowy et al., 2013). ...
... Apart from these studies, research has been limited on domestic homicide risk of children . Research has shown, however, that children can be considered at risk if their mothers are at risk (e.g., Olszowy et al. 2013) because of the overlapping risk factors for children and adult domestic homicide. ...
... Notwithstanding the limitations, the study generated findings that offer considerations for future research and practice. This study sought to expand on previous research examining child domestic homicide risk factors Olszowy et al. 2013), through the use of a larger sample size than previous studies had access to. Specifically, Hamilton et al. (2013) found a higher number of agency involvement among families with children in their comparison of cases. ...
Article
Full-text available
Children exposed to domestic violence may be at risk of homicide. Through an analysis of 140 domestic homicide cases in Ontario, Canada, this study sought to identify unique factors that heighten the risk for children in these circumstances. Two groups of domestic homicide cases were compared: cases with no children (No Children, n = 39) and cases where children were part of the family system (Children, n = 101). Further comparison was made of cases in which children were killed (n = 20) to cases in which children were present but not killed (n = 81). Overall, there were few unique differences between the groups and most of the significant findings were based on expected demographic characteristics related to having children in the family. Other significant results included a higher percentage of reports made to legal counsel/services within child-specific cases and a higher percentage of reports made to family members in cases where children were not killed. These results indicate that children who lose parents to domestic homicide share similar high-risk circumstances as children who have been killed in this context. Practical implications of the study’s findings are discussed.
... Instead, the outcomes of an assessment should provide a guide to safety planning and risk management strategies for IPV victims, perpetrators, and families. Indeed, any risk assessment tool has significant limitations because it is challenging to predict rare events (Olszowy et al., 2013). ...
... Researchers have suggested that these tools may be more suitable in raising awareness about the level of risk to assist in screening cases for more intensive intervention (Olszowy et al., 2013;Ward-Lasher et al., 2017). Assessing the level of risk can potentially be more helpful in informing decisions where there is an existing history/evidence of IPV and aiding in providing appropriate referrals as well as the allocation of needs. ...
Article
Through interviews with police officers ( n = 15), the present study examined police perspectives toward their response to intimate partner violence (IPV). Qualitative analyses indicated several challenges police officers face in responding to IPV, including barriers at the systemic, organizational, and individual levels. Police officers in the current study also identified recommendations toward overcoming barriers. Overall, results continue to underscore a lack of police consistency toward addressing IPV, including inconsistent approaches to assessing and managing risk posed to families. Conversely, qualitative results point to several recommendations that heavily involve collaboration between community and justice partners. Implications for future research and practice include further examination of the identified recommendations, a continued focus on developing training that addresses the risk posed to high-risk families, and further development of collaborative approaches toward the prevention and intervention of IPV.
... As well as children's widespread exposure to non-lethal DFV, research identifies an increased risk of lethal violence directed at children in families affected by DFV (Dobash & Dobash, 2012;Hazel et al., 2013;Jaffe et al., 2014;Olszowy et al., 2013). As we discuss earlier in this book, the gendered nature of DFV becomes even more prominent at the most severe and lethal end of DFV. ...
... When children die in the context of DFV, it is often because they have been targeted as a form of revenge by the perpetrator. Primarily male perpetrated, this type of domestic homicide uses children as the ultimate 'tool' of power and control over the original victim of DFV (Hazel et al., 2013;Olszowy et al., 2013). This type of domestic homicide disproportionately occurs in the context of recent or impending parental separation. ...
... There is no reported literature on the effectiveness of current risk assessment tools being utilized with victims of DV on identifying a child's risk for lethality, aside from a preliminary report in a thesis (36). The thesis study was a retrospective analysis that compared domestic homicide cases with child victims to domestic homicide cases where children were present but not killed. ...
... Currently, there are no risk assessment tools that specifically screen for a child's risk to domestic homicide. Research has indicated that current risk assessment tools being used with victims of DV could not differentiate between domestic homicide cases involving child victims and domestic homicide cases where children were present but not killed (36). However, these assessment tools were able to establish that all of the domestic homicide cases were considered to be "high-risk". ...
Article
This review article highlights the risks that children may face inthe context of domestic violence (DV). Although there are significantrisks for psychological harm for children exposed toDV, in extreme cases, children may be exposed to a domestichomicide or become homicide victims themselves. Often thesetragedies appear predictable and preventable with the presenceof several risk factors. Risk assessment tools currently being usedto identify the level of risk to an adult victim of DV also indicatea potential risk to a child. Health care professionals need to beaware of the risk for lethality with children exposed to DV andto raise these issues with patients in consideration of the risk tochildren. Prevention of these tragedies requires enhanced trainingon domestic violence and the risk for lethality with victimsand children. Standardized protocols for interventions and riskmanagement that include safety plans for children are needed. Conclusion – Reviews of domestic homicides suggest that childrenmay be at significant risk of harm and health care professionalsneed to recognize that risks to adult partners in thesecircumstances also pose risks to children.
... When a severe form of IPV and/or coercive control behaviors have been alleged or corroborated, then evaluators may want to administer a well-known screening instrument for spousal homicide . The WCS concern and appraisal should also apply to the rare and severe event of child homicide ( Jaffe, Campbell, Juodis, & Hamilton, 2012;Olszowy, Jaffe, Campbell, & Hamilton, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
An integrative conceptual framework and forensic evaluation model are presented for custody evaluators when the issue of Intimate Partner Violence is salient in a child custody case (IPV-CC). A revised typology of IPV combines previously proposed categories with a violence risk assessment approach to reflect both the descriptive and predictive functions for evaluators. It is a research-based forensic model. Continuous and categorical variable approaches to the analysis of IPV in custody cases are presented and contrasted. Ten behavioral dimensions of IPV-CC are described to serve as a multidimensional behavioral grid approach to the assessment of IPV. The integrated framework and perspective allows for greater behavioral specificity in the analysis. It avoids problems inherent in forensic assessment by subtype labeling. The court will be better informed by a multidimensional and continuous variable approach that provides behavioral versus categorical differentiation. This approach allows for more accurate and efficient risk communications to the court and translation to parenting plan recommendations. Issues involved with the forensic assessment of IPV in the custody context and making predictions/ recommendations about future parenting, co-parenting, and child adjustment are discussed.
... While there are Ontario police standards (Ministry of the Solicitor General, 2000) that discuss the need to ensure the immediate safety of children, there is a less clear protocol for the assessment of risk for children. This lack of clarity can lead to overlooking the dangers that children may face, given the evidence of children killed in the context of DV (Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee., 2017; Olszowy et al., 2013). As previous research has found, police appear to view children on the sidelines of DV occurrences and often overlook their needs (Richardson-Foster et al., 2012). ...
Article
Children are harmed by exposure to domestic violence (DV) and in extreme cases can become homicide victims themselves. A critical role for police responding to domestic violence calls is to assess risk for future violence. Training and procedural guidelines for assessment and intervention are often focused on adult victims, and children tend to be overlooked. Objective The objective of the current study is to identify the challenges police officers perceive in dealing with children in the context of DV occurrences. Participants, setting & methods Interviews with police officers (n = 15) in Ontario, Canada were used to explore police officers' experiences addressing the needs of families experiencing DV. A dual deductive/inductive approach to a thematic analysis at the semantic level was undertaken (Braun & Clarke, 2006) to explore themes. Results The major themes from the interviews centered on: (a) challenges relating to knowledge, skills, and resources; (b) challenges from discrepancies in required procedures; and (c) challenges associated to police relations with families. These challenges all impact the police response to children in DV occurrences. Conclusions Police recognize the challenges they face in addressing children in DV occurrences. The implications for improved practice are discussed and include the need for increased collaboration, awareness, and training.
... In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is the father and the mother and children are victims of the homicide. Although there are no specific tools addressing child homicide in the context of domestic violence, the existing research points to the fact that when adult victims are facing lethal danger, so are the children (Olszowy et al., 2013). ...
Research
Full-text available
This study documents the number of domestic homicides in Canada between 2010 and 2015 based on court and media reports. This research has been done as part of a five-year, SSHRC-funded project entitled The Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP). The project has academic and community partners across Canada who are focused on promoting collaborative, cross-sectoral research to identify unique individual and community-level risk factors that may increase exposure to domestic violence and domestic homicide for specific populations.
... One study that examined data collected from domestic homicide case reviews found that there were significantly more community service agencies involved with the family prior to the homicide in cases where children were killed . Outside of these studies, there remains a relative dearth of research examining the unique risks of children being killed in the context of DV Olszowy et al. 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Exposure to domestic violence (DV) reports account for a significant portion of child welfare cases. However, there is a lack of resources for specifically working with cases that present a high-risk for lethality. The present study examined the involvement of child protection services (CPS) prior to domestic homicide cases. A retrospective case analysis was conducted utilizing cases reviewed by a domestic violence death review committee in Ontario, Canada. The study also examined the recommendations made by the committee to the child welfare sector. Overall, less than one-quarter of the homicide cases with children in the family system had CPS involvement. There were no differences in the presence of CPS involvement in cases where children were killed compared to cases where children were not killed. CPS-involved cases had significantly more risk factors and the family was involved with significantly more agencies overall. Recommendations directed to the child welfare sector highlighted the need for enhanced ongoing service provision to promote safety and hold perpetrators accountable, specialized DV training, and increased cross-sector collaboration. The child protection sector plays a critical role in assessing and managing risk in DV cases and preventing tragedies. The findings stress the importance of multi-disciplinary collaborations, and specialized ongoing training in engaging perpetrators and managing risk.
... When a severe form of IPV and/or coercive control behaviors have been alleged or corroborated, then evaluators may want to administer a well-known screening instrument for spousal homicide . The WCS concern and appraisal should also apply to the rare and severe event of child homicide ( Jaffe, Campbell, Juodis, & Hamilton, 2012;Olszowy, Jaffe, Campbell, & Hamilton, 2013). ...
Article
A more succinct bench-book version of the Integrated Framework and Forensic Model (Austin & Drozd, 20128. Austin , W. G. , & Drozd , L. M. ( 2012 ). Intimate partner violence and child custody evaluation, Part I: Theoretical framework, forensic model, and assessment issues . Journal of Child Custody , 9 ( 4 ), 250 – 309 . doi: 10.1080/15379418. 2012.749717 [CrossRef]View all references) for the assessment of intimate partner violence (IPV) in child custody disputes is presented. The revised IPV typology integrates the main subtypes of coercive control, conflict-instigated, and separation-associated IPV with major violence risk factors. The 10 behavioral dimensions are described in a behavioral grid analysis for describing the past pattern of IPV, conducting a violence risk assessment, and making parenting plan recommendations. A recommended forensic assessment protocol and summary for judicial consideration are presented.
... Die Fragestellungen der anderen vier Studien (siehe Tabelle 8) gingen Fragen der inkrementellen Validität (Folkes et al., 2013;, der Konstruktvalidität (Hilton, Harris, & Holder, 2008) und der diskriminanten Validität nach (Olszowy et al., 2013). Folkes et al. (2013) (Folkes et al., 2013). ...
Article
Shared parenting is the most beneficial model for planning the future of many separating parents and their children. Shared parenting needs to be crafted, for appropriate cases, by willing parents on their own or through coaching by responsible lawyers, counselors, or mediators. Shared parenting is not an outcome that should be forced on high-conflict parents against their will as a compromise in the hopes that they will grow into the plan. Separating parents with a history of domestic violence need to receive appropriate screening and assessment on the nature of the violence, the impact of the violence on the adult victim and children, and the interventions required by the perpetrator before a safe parenting plan can be designed. The Think Tank Report on shared parenting is to be commended for its work. The Report acknowledges some of the limitations of shared parenting in situations that pose risks to children and/or inadvertently promote ongoing conflicts between parents. My concern is that domestic violence victims will be forced into shared parenting or fear being labeled as “hostile” and “unfriendly parents” or accused of alienation. There continues to be a need for much more professional education on the ongoing risks of domestic violence and the implications for differentiated parenting plans.Key Points for the Family Court Community:Shared parenting is not for everyone.Litigating parents are unlikely to make shared parenting work.Case of domestic violence require screening and a differentiated parenting plan that recognizes safety, accountability and healing.
Article
The current study provides an in-depth exploration of the narratives of children who witnessed their father killing their mother. This exploration was conducted using a thematic analysis of the children's forensic interviews based on seven investigative interviews that were conducted with children following the domestic homicide. Investigative interviews were selected for study only for substantiated cases and only if the children disclosed the domestic homicide. All of the investigative interviews were conducted within 24h of the domestic homicide. Thematic analysis revealed the following four key categories: the domestic homicide as the dead end of domestic violence, what I did when daddy killed mommy, that one time that daddy killed mommy, and mommy will feel better and will go back home. The discussion examines the multiple layers of this phenomenon as revealed in the children's narratives and its consequences for professionals within the legal and clinical contexts.
Article
On average one third of all women are victimised by intimate partner violence at least once in their life. Many women are affected repeatedly. To efficiently reduce the risk of repeated violence a reliable and valid risk assessment is needed. To date several risk assessment tools have been published in the field of intimate partner violence. There is a strong demand for such tools to be applicable by a wider range of practitioners (e.g., police officers, hospital and victim services' staff) to reliably assess cases of intimate partner violence and recommend further interventions. By developing the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) it was the authors' aim to provide a brief risk assessment tool which can be scored on the basis of only few and easily collectable information and which efficiently discriminates between low-risk and high-risk offenders of intimate partner violence. Previous replication studies found moderate to good and on average higher power of discrimination of the ODARA compared to other risk assessment tools in the field. However, for the German speaking countries robust findings are still lacking. In the present publication a scientific and authorised translation of the ODARA is provided. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.
Chapter
Filicides in Canada rarely happen out of the blue without warning signs. In particular, filicides in the context of domestic violence suggest a history of multiple risk factors. Most of these deaths appear predictable and preventable with hindsight. This hindsight has come from the emerging work of interdisciplinary death review committees. These reviews highlight shortcomings in risk assessment, safety planning, and risk management among health, social services, and education and justice professionals. There are many missed opportunities to share information and develop effective intervention strategies. This chapter outlines the lessons learned from these homicides with a focus on vulnerable populations such as immigrant and refugee families who face many barriers in seeking assistance.
Chapter
Child homicides are a significant concern around the world and call for enhanced prevention efforts. In 2012, 36,000 children under the age of 15 were victims of homicide representing 8% of all global homicide victims (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014). In Western societies, children are most likely to be killed by parents or step-parents, acts usually referred to as filicides (Dawson 2015; Friedman and Resnik 2007; Office for National Statistics 2014). Extensive reviews of official records find that fathers are 57% of Canadian filicide perpetrators (Dawson 2015) and 55% of American filicide perpetrators (Dixon et al. 2014). Fathers appear more likely to kill children as an act of revenge, in the context of separation, and following a prior history of domestic violence (Dawson 2015; Ewing 1997; Lawrence 2004).
Article
The use of risk assessment tools by frontline police for intimate partner violence has the potential to make a difference to policing. In this paper, the key aspects of intimate partner violence risk assessment are outlined critically with a particular emphasis on how they can be used in practice. Two, evidence-based, exemplars are reviewed. These are the Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment (ODARA), an example of the actuarial approach, and the Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-SAFER), an example of the structured professional judgement approach. In addition, the victim giving his or her own appraisal of risk is discussed. All three approaches have some validity when administered properly but practical factors reduce this validity. The content of the risk assessment tools are outlined and practical concerns such as training, time to administer, reliability, validity, and the overlap of intimate partner violence with other forms of offending are discussed. A balanced overview of the strengths, weaknesses and future potential of intimate partner violence risk assessment is provided.
Article
This study examined the role of police in domestic homicide cases reviewed by a multidisciplinary death review committee in Ontario, Canada. Examining the 219 domestic homicide case summaries, this study explored the difference between homicides with, and without, prior police contact. Results indicated that police contacted cases had 63% more risk factors present compared with cases without prior police contact, with 80% of police-involved cases having 10 or more risk factors. Police cases had unique risk factors present including a failure to comply with authority, access to victims after risk assessments, prior threats to kill victims (including with a weapon), history of domestic violence (DV), extreme minimization of DV, addiction concerns, and an escalation of violence. Cases involving child homicide have unique child-specific risk factors such as custody disputes, threats to children, and abuse during pregnancy. Overall, there was a lack of formal risk assessments conducted. Implications are discussed in terms of police intervention being a critical opportunity for risk assessment, safety planning, and risk management. Although there is no certainty in predicting that lives would have been saved, the level of risk presented calls for enhanced efforts at assessment and intervention for adult victims and their children.
Article
Paternal filicide in the context of domestic violence is a rare event that is often hard to predict and prevent. However, the results from current research with domestic homicide review committees suggest that warning signs may be overlooked by some professionals and agencies that do not foresee the direct harm to children. Even in cases where the dangers to adult victims were recognised, the potential harm to the children was not seen. Child homicides in the context of domestic violence are often motivated by revenge against the mother for leaving the abusive relationship. The findings suggest that adult homicides and child homicides, which take place in the context of domestic violence, have similar warning signs. The findings have implications for all professionals working in the healthcare, social service, education and justice sectors. In particular, there is a need for close coordination among family and criminal courts, professionals to ensure that the safety plan for a parent in these circumstances extends to the children as well. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.‘Child homicides in the context of domestic violence are often motivated by revenge’Key Practitioner MessagesPaternal filicide is a rare event that is often hard to predict and prevent.Current research with domestic homicide review committees suggests that warning signs may be overlooked by some professionals and agencies that do not foresee the direct harm to children.Child homicides in the context of domestic violence are often motivated by revenge against the mother for leaving the abusive relationship.There is a need for close coordination amongst family and criminal Court professionals to ensure that the safety plan for a parent in these circumstances extends to the children as well.‘Warning signs may be overlooked by some professionals and agencies that do not foresee the direct harm to children’
Article
Full-text available
An integrative conceptual framework and forensic evaluation model are presented for custody evaluators when the issue of Intimate Partner Violence is salient in a child custody case (IPV-CC). A revised typology of IPV combines previously proposed categories with a violence risk assessment approach to reflect both the descriptive and predictive functions for evaluators. It is a research-based forensic model. Continuous and categorical variable approaches to the analysis of IPV in custody cases are presented and contrasted. Ten behavioral dimensions of IPV-CC are described to serve as a multidimensional behavioral grid approach to the assessment of IPV. The integrated framework and perspective allows for greater behavioral specificity in the analysis. It avoids problems inherent in forensic assessment by subtype labeling. The court will be better informed by a multidimensional and continuous variable approach that provides behavioral versus categorical differentiation. This approach allows for more accurate and efficient risk communications to the court and translation to parenting plan recommendations. Issues involved with the forensic assessment of IPV in the custody context and making predictions/ recommendations about future parenting, co-parenting, and child adjustment are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Societal responses to child maltreatment and to woman battering have developed in separate and sometimes conflicting ways. It is only in recent years that greater attention has been devoted to the possible overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering in the same families. Thirty-five studies conducted over the past 2½ decades that mentioned an overlap between child maltreatment and adult domestic violence in the same families were identified. These studies are reviewed and their strengths and weaknesses identified. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications these findings have for practice, policy, and research.
Article
Full-text available
The dominant philosophy in family court emphasizes cooperative solutions between separating parents who are encouraged to put their conflicts behind them. For the majority of separating families, this collaborative approach will best serve their children. However, cases involving domestic violence require a paradigm shift, with a greater focus on making a parenting plan that protects victims and children, and less emphasis on speedy, cooperative outcomes. This paper presents a framework for addressing domestic violence through a tiered assessment strategy and an accompanying intervention framework depicted by off-ramps from a freeway (as an analogy in this case to the substantial momentum towards collaborative settlements). These off-ramps for domestic violence and high-conflict cases do not suggest a one-size-fits-all solution within these categories; rather, they mark a departure point from which a wide range of solutions may be considered. Policy and practice implications of this paradigm shift are highlighted.
Article
Full-text available
For more than 20 years, there have been periodic reports in the research literature about the co-occurrence of spouse abuse and physical child abuse. This review compiles and evaluates those reports. Forty-two studies were found that provided some data concerning co-occurrence; 31 of the studies included sufficient detail to be used in this review. The different types of studies are classified and methodological issues are discussed. The base rate of co-occurrence found in representative community samples was about 6%. In clinical samples of either battered women or physically abused children, the percentage of overlap ranged from 20% to 100%. When a conservative definition of child abuse was used, a median co-occurrence rate of 40% was found. Five models depicting the directionality of abuse in violent families are proposed and discussed in relation to the data and theories of violence. Recommendations for methodological improvements and theory-driven studies are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Premised on the understanding that domestic violence is a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of behaviors from isolated events to a pattern of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that controls the victim, this article addresses the need for a differentiated approach to developing parenting plans after separation when domestic violence is alleged. A method of assessing risk by screening for the potency, pattern, and primary perpetrator of the violence is proposed as a foundation for generating hypotheses about the type of and potential for future violence as well as parental functioning. This kind of differential screening for risk in cases where domestic violence is alleged provides preliminary guidance in identifying parenting arrangements that are appropriate for the specific child and family and, if confirmed by a more in-depth assessment, may be the basis for a long-term plan. A series of parenting plans are proposed, with criteria and guidelines for usage depending upon this differential screening, ranging from highly restricted access arrangements (no contact with perpetrators of family violence and supervised access or monitored exchange) to relatively unrestricted ones (parallel parenting) and even co-parenting. Implications for practice are considered within the context of available resources.
Article
Full-text available
Familicides, the killings of multiple family members, are believed to constitute an overlap between child homicide (filicide) and intimate partner homicide (uxoricide). The aim of this paper was to examine and compare the socio-demographic, contextual and psychopathological factors of familicide perpetrators with factors of filicide and uxoricide perpetrators. Data were extracted from files in a forensic psychiatric observation hospital in Utrecht, The Netherlands, for the years 1953-2006. The sample of 536 persons was identified in one of the three categories of interest; 23 were accused of familicide, 133 of filicide and 380 of uxoricide. Familicide perpetrators are more likely than filicide perpetrators to be male, to be older, to be more educated and to commit the offence with physical violence. They are more likely than uxoricide perpetrators to be married, less likely to have committed a previous violent offence but more likely to suffer from a personality disorder and more likely to attempt suicide following the homicide. Although similarities exist between the three groups under study, those accused of familicide cannot be equated with those accused of filicide or uxoricide. The finding that a large majority of the perpetrators were mentally ill at the time and that many killed when faced with divorce and/or custody over the child(ren) may suggest that increased monitoring of this group might have preventative value.
Article
Full-text available
The Danger Assessment (DA) is an instrument designed to assess the likelihood of lethality or near lethality occurring in a case of intimate partner violence. This article describes the development, psychometric validation, and suggestions for use of the DA. An 11-city study of intimate partner femicide used multivariate analysis to test the predictive validity of the risk factors on the DA from intimate partner femicide cases (N = 310) compared with 324 abused women in the same cities (controls). The results were used to revise the DA (four items added; one "double-barreled" item divided into two), and the calculated weights (adjusted odds ratios) used to develop a scoring algorithm with levels of risk. These levels of risk were then tested with an independent sample of attempted femicides (N = 194) with a final outcome of .90 of the cases included in the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve.
Article
Full-text available
This 11-city study sought to identify risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships. Proxies of 220 intimate partner femicide victims identified from police or medical examiner records were interviewed, along with 343 abused control women. Preincident risk factors associated in multivariate analyses with increased risk of intimate partner femicide included perpetrator's access to a gun and previous threat with a weapon, perpetrator's stepchild in the home, and estrangement, especially from a controlling partner. Never living together and prior domestic violence arrest were associated with lowered risks. Significant incident factors included the victim having left for another partner and the perpetrator's use of a gun. Other significant bivariate-level risks included stalking, forced sex, and abuse during pregnancy. There are identifiable risk factors for intimate partner femicides.
Article
Full-text available
There has been an increased focus on child custody evaluations involving domestic violence allegations with much criticism of evaluators' training, practices, and procedures. A national survey of 115 child custody evaluators (doctoral and master's level) was conducted to explore these criticisms. Findings revealed adequate training, multiple sources of data collection, and practices/procedures that closely adhere to child custody guidelines. However, robust, specialized domestic violence instruments, tests, and questionnaires were underutilized. Respondents indicated that findings supporting domestic violence allegations had a substantial impact on their subsequent recommendations. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of assessing domestic violence when conducting custody evaluations and the need for developing practice standards in this domain. Generally, results did not support common criticisms of custody evaluation practice.
Article
Full-text available
An actuarial assessment to predict male-to-female marital violence was constructed from a pool of potential predictors in a sample of 589 offenders identified in police records and followed up for an average of almost 5 years. Archival information in several domains (offender characteristics, domestic violence history, nondomestic criminal history, relationship characteristics, victim characteristics, index offense) and recidivism were subjected to setwise and stepwise logistic regression. The resulting 13-item scale, the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), showed a large effect size in predicting new assaults against legal or common-law wives or ex-wives (Cohen's d = 1.1, relative operating characteristic area =.77) and was associated with number and severity of new assaults and time until recidivism. Cross-validation and comparisons with other instruments are also reported.
Article
Full-text available
Filicide is the murder of a child by a parent. Historically, filicide was regarded as a female crime, but nowadays, in the West, men have become increasingly likely to be convicted of killing their child. Previous research on filicide has primarily focussed on either maternal or paternal filicide rather than comparing the two. The aim of our study is to examine and compare the socio-demographic, environmental and psychopathological factors underlying maternal and paternal filicide. Data were extracted from records in a forensic psychiatric observation hospital in Utrecht, in the Netherlands for the period 1953-2004. Seventy-nine men and 82 women were detained in the hospital under criminal charges in that period, having killed (132) or attempted to kill (29) their own child(ren). Differences between men and women were found with regard to age, methods of killing and motivation underlying the filicide. Conclusions The categories of filicide identified corresponded to those in studies from other countries, indicating that filicide follows similar patterns throughout the Western world. The fact that 25% of fathers had killed in reaction to threatened separation or divorce, and that over a third of men and more than half of the women were mentally ill at the time may suggest that increased monitoring by primary care physicians under such circumstances might have preventive value.
Article
It came “out of the blue” is often said when a man with no known history of criminality kills his intimate partner. This reflects a belief that a “conventional man” without a criminogenic past or a problematic personal history would not commit murder. Casefiles from the Murder in Britain Study are used to compare men with no previous conviction (NoConvict, n = 25) with men with at least one previous conviction prior to the murder (PrevConvict, n = 79). The groups differed in childhood and adulthood with problematic lives and offending among the PrevConvict group and more “conventional” profiles among the NoConvict group but were similar in terms of circumstances at the murder and cognitions about the victim, especially possessiveness, jealousy, separation, empathy and remorse. The similarities challenge the notion that the murder comes “out of the blue” and underscore the relevance of gender and a feminist analysis of IPmurder
Article
Child homicide has been a key influence on childcare policy and practice over the last three decades, with a particular focus on the assessment, management and monitoring of situations where children are at risk and on associated inter-agency working. A psychosocial analysis of the pre-offence experiences of 68 adults (mostly parents or carers) who killed or attempted to kill a child identified complex, intricate and heterogeneous processes in respect of their interpersonal relationships, stress and mental health and the relationship of these factors to the offence. These findings indicate that the current policy and practice focus upon procedures and performance in safeguarding children may not address successfully the complex needs of those adults who may pose a risk to children. It is suggested that appropriate therapeutic services should be more readily available.
Article
Many studies of adults who are violent to others or abuse their children suggest long-standing interpersonal difficulties that can be traced back to severe adverse experiences in childhood. Different models have been proposed to understand these difficulties, including attachment theory. However, attachment concepts tend to be used loosely and we suggest that the notion of 'unresolved care and control conflicts' is a more practically useful framework, which also has parallels in attachment theory and offers pointers for risk assessment. Copyright  2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Domestic Violence Death Review Committees (DVDRCs) are interdisciplinary teams dedicated to examining domestic homicide and recommending how to prevent future tragedies by comprehensively examining individual cases. This article summarizes the findings of 15 DVDRCs concerning children as victims and witnesses. The findings reflect that an alarming number of children are victimized by domestic violence. Themes in the recommendations are grouped in relationship to: (1) training and policy development; (2) resource development; (3) coordination of services; (4) legislative reform; and (5) prevention programs. The recommendations are critical for criminal and civil courts as well as enhancing collaboration between the justice system and community partners in preventing domestic homicide.
Article
The present study attempted a preliminary validation of the Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-SAFER) in Hong Kong. In-depth assessment was conducted on 43 identified batterers and 46 control male subjects. Results suggested that the B-SAFER could correctly classify 95% of the cases. Scores relating to the current situation were found to be particularly important in predicting intimate partner violence. The concurrent validity of the B-SAFER was demonstrated by its correlation with the Conflict Tactics Scale scores. Findings were discussed in the context of developing screening tool in the community setting with the guided clinical approach.
Article
Fatal child assault, the deaths of children caused by the violent actions of another person, is the subject of this article. It is argued that the definition of the problem, its size and scope, is dependent on administrative social and legal categories. These phenomena encompass a range of situations. Although a child dies from violence in each incident, the social context within which these incidents occur is diverse. A typology of child fatal assaults is developed based on the research literature. Diverse explanatory theories have been offered to account for the problem of fatal assault of children. These paradigms concentrate on different aspects of the problem including the perpetrator (and their mental state or gender), the incident itself, and the social context of the incident (familial or not). It is argued that conceptualisation of the problem and the assumptions in the accompanying paradigm must be made explicit before discussion of this social problem can begin.
Article
There is a moral and a legal imperative to learn the lessons from the outcomes of child fatality or serious injury through maltreatment to prevent or at least reduce their reoccurrence. A conclusion of a study, funded by the English Government, of a full cohort of 161 'serious case reviews' of child death and serious injury through abuse, was that most of these worst outcome cases were mostly too complex to be predictable or preventable. Limitations to learning from these high profile cases, which often dominate policy and practice internationally are illustrated by this study. Three groups of cases are identified: 'serious physical assault of young babies', 'neglect', and 'older, hard to help young people'. Learning is offered about safer practice and better recognition of abuse across three levels of intervention -- universal services, known maltreatment risks, and late intervention which may have some cross-national implications. Professional judgment, based on a sound theoretical understanding, is argued to be a better route to safe practice than over adherence to performance indicators. Findings from in-depth studies of small populations of worst cases can be misrepresented and learning from these idiosyncratic studies needs to be linked more clearly to large population studies.
Article
The Danger Assessment is a clinical and research instrument that has been designed to help battered women assess their danger of homicide. Completing the Danger Assessment with a nurse is conceptualized as a means of increasing the self-care agency of battered women, according to Orem's nursing conceptual framework. The instrument was used in a study of 79 battered women. Results of this study, which give initial support for the reliability and validity of the Danger Assessment, are reported. The instrument is available from the author on request.
A mother who murders her child challenges the empathic skills of evaluating clinicians. In this chapter, original research, supplemented by detailed case histories, compares women adjudicated criminally responsible for the murders of their children with those adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity.
Article
Filicide, the murder of a child by a parent, is a multifaceted phenomenon with various causes and characteristics. This review of the existing literature delineates the present state of knowledge regarding filicide and illustrates similarities and differences between offenses perpetrated by mothers and by fathers. The importance of numerous reports of an association between filicide and parental pre-existing psychiatric disorders is compounded by indications that a significant number of homicidal parents come to the attention of psychiatrists or other health professionals before the offense occurs. As prevention implies the recognition of causes involved in particular situations, a better understanding of potentially fatal parental/familial dynamics leading to filicide could facilitate the identification of risk and enable effective intervention strategies.