Understanding fatal child abuse

Ralph Hicks, Daniel C. Gaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Medical, social service and coroner reports were reviewed for 14 cases of fatal child abuse and neglect identified at a children's hospital from 1988-1992. Twelve cases involved physical abuse and two neglect. The median age was 6.5 months (range 24 days to 3 years). Six families (43%) had prior protective service involvement; however, four of the referrals involved a sibling. Only two of 12 physical abuse victims had a history of a prior suspicious injury. Clinical and postmortem findings are presented. The cause of death in all physically abused patients was blunt impact head injury; one also had contributing intraabdominal injuries. Ten cases were ruled due to homicide; 12 have come to legal closure resulting in nine felony convictions. These findings emphasize the role of blunt impact brain injury in fatal child abuse cases. Two findings have significant implications for prevention: (a) the paucity of injuries recognized prior to the fatal event, and (b) among families known to child protection agencies the focus was not the fatally injured child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-863
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume19
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Child Abuse
abuse
neglect
Wounds and Injuries
Closed Head Injuries
children's hospital
Coroners and Medical Examiners
Homicide
abuse of children
child protection
cause of death
Social Work
Brain Injuries
mobile social services
homicide
Siblings
Cause of Death
brain
Referral and Consultation
event

Keywords

  • Child physical abuse
  • Fatal child abuse
  • Homicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Understanding fatal child abuse. / Hicks, Ralph; Gaughan, Daniel C.

In: Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 19, No. 7, 1995, p. 855-863.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hicks, Ralph ; Gaughan, Daniel C. / Understanding fatal child abuse. In: Child Abuse and Neglect. 1995 ; Vol. 19, No. 7. pp. 855-863.
@article{0abaacf21e094a87be41c2246f62d0f3,
title = "Understanding fatal child abuse",
abstract = "Medical, social service and coroner reports were reviewed for 14 cases of fatal child abuse and neglect identified at a children's hospital from 1988-1992. Twelve cases involved physical abuse and two neglect. The median age was 6.5 months (range 24 days to 3 years). Six families (43{\%}) had prior protective service involvement; however, four of the referrals involved a sibling. Only two of 12 physical abuse victims had a history of a prior suspicious injury. Clinical and postmortem findings are presented. The cause of death in all physically abused patients was blunt impact head injury; one also had contributing intraabdominal injuries. Ten cases were ruled due to homicide; 12 have come to legal closure resulting in nine felony convictions. These findings emphasize the role of blunt impact brain injury in fatal child abuse cases. Two findings have significant implications for prevention: (a) the paucity of injuries recognized prior to the fatal event, and (b) among families known to child protection agencies the focus was not the fatally injured child.",
keywords = "Child physical abuse, Fatal child abuse, Homicide",
author = "Ralph Hicks and Gaughan, {Daniel C.}",
year = "1995",
doi = "10.1016/0145-2134(95)00044-9",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "19",
pages = "855--863",
journal = "Child Abuse and Neglect",
issn = "0145-2134",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Understanding fatal child abuse

AU - Hicks, Ralph

AU - Gaughan, Daniel C.

PY - 1995

Y1 - 1995

N2 - Medical, social service and coroner reports were reviewed for 14 cases of fatal child abuse and neglect identified at a children's hospital from 1988-1992. Twelve cases involved physical abuse and two neglect. The median age was 6.5 months (range 24 days to 3 years). Six families (43%) had prior protective service involvement; however, four of the referrals involved a sibling. Only two of 12 physical abuse victims had a history of a prior suspicious injury. Clinical and postmortem findings are presented. The cause of death in all physically abused patients was blunt impact head injury; one also had contributing intraabdominal injuries. Ten cases were ruled due to homicide; 12 have come to legal closure resulting in nine felony convictions. These findings emphasize the role of blunt impact brain injury in fatal child abuse cases. Two findings have significant implications for prevention: (a) the paucity of injuries recognized prior to the fatal event, and (b) among families known to child protection agencies the focus was not the fatally injured child.

AB - Medical, social service and coroner reports were reviewed for 14 cases of fatal child abuse and neglect identified at a children's hospital from 1988-1992. Twelve cases involved physical abuse and two neglect. The median age was 6.5 months (range 24 days to 3 years). Six families (43%) had prior protective service involvement; however, four of the referrals involved a sibling. Only two of 12 physical abuse victims had a history of a prior suspicious injury. Clinical and postmortem findings are presented. The cause of death in all physically abused patients was blunt impact head injury; one also had contributing intraabdominal injuries. Ten cases were ruled due to homicide; 12 have come to legal closure resulting in nine felony convictions. These findings emphasize the role of blunt impact brain injury in fatal child abuse cases. Two findings have significant implications for prevention: (a) the paucity of injuries recognized prior to the fatal event, and (b) among families known to child protection agencies the focus was not the fatally injured child.

KW - Child physical abuse

KW - Fatal child abuse

KW - Homicide

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0029027764&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0029027764&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/0145-2134(95)00044-9

DO - 10.1016/0145-2134(95)00044-9

M3 - Article

C2 - 7583743

AN - SCOPUS:0029027764

VL - 19

SP - 855

EP - 863

JO - Child Abuse and Neglect

JF - Child Abuse and Neglect

SN - 0145-2134

IS - 7

ER -