Homicides and maltreatment - related deaths of disabled children: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article aims to systematically review the empirical literature in relation to the homicides and maltreatment-related deaths of disabled children to better understand risk factors and to assess support for the explanatory theories posited. These theories include: 1) the stress of caregiving; 2) altruistic intent; 3) lack of bonding with the child; 4) the challenging behaviours of a child; 5) cultural beliefs about disability; and, 6) evolutionary imperatives. Systematic searching techniques were used to retrieve relevant research articles in six electronic databases: AMED, CINAHL, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Medline (PubMed), PsycINFO and SCOPUS. The issue of a child being disabled was identified as a risk factor in most articles reviewed, however the definition of the term 'disability' was not consistent nor was there a consistent approach to recording children’s disability. A range of potential risk factors were found, related to the child, the perpetrator and the environment, with the pathway to harming the child involving an interactive process between each of these. The stress of caregiving and altruistic theories were the two most common explanations, although a combination of theories may provide a more comprehensive explanation of these complex events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number5
Early online date5 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • child death
  • filicide
  • fatal abuse
  • disabled children
  • systematic review


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