An unthinkable crime: Parents who kill

W. Bryant1*, S. Lyneham1 & S. Bricknell1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology,

Almost a fifth of family homicide incidents in Australia are filicides, or the killing of children by their parents. Few Australian studies, however, have described national patterns in filicide incidents, victims and offenders. To address this gap, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) partnered with Monash University to examine filicides that occurred in Australia between 2000 and 2012. This paper presents findings from analysis of the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program with a focus on filicide offender and offending characteristics. It describes custodial relationships between offender and victim, methods by which children were killed, history of prior domestic violence or other criminal offending, experience of mental illness, post-homicide suicide rates and co-offender association.


Willow Bryant has been a Research Officer with the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Violence and Exploitation Research Program since 2013. Willow obtained her Bachelor of Psychology Science/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Class IIA Honours) from Griffith University. She has worked on the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program for approximately two years and has extensive familiarity with this dataset.


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