Risk factors for child death during an intimate partner homicide: A case control study.

Lyons, V.H., Adhia, A., Moe, C.A., Kernic, M.A., Schiller, M., Bowen, A., Rivara, F.P., & Rowhani-Rahbar, A. (2020).
Child Maltreatment, 1 – 7.
Type of Profession:

This study examined the risk factors for children being killed in the course of an incident of intimate partner homicide.

Expanded Abstract: 

An estimated 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner each year in the United States (Black et al., 2011). The most severe form of intimate partner violence (IPV) is intimate partner homicide (IPH). While the majority of all homicide victims in the United States are male, approximately 70%–80% of IPH victims are female (Fridel & Fox, 2019; Velopulos et al., 2019). A prior study using national data to examine IPH found that over half (54%) of IPH victims died by firearms (Smith et al., 2014). IPH victims are not limited to intimate partners of the perpetrator, but can also include corollary victims, such as friends, family members, neighbors, children and law enforcement personnel who are present during the incident or attempt to intervene (Smith et al., 2014).

In addition to primary victims (e.g., spouses or intimate partners), there are often other victims who are also killed in these incidents. Called corollary victims, they include family members, children, new intimate partners, friends, acquaintances, police officers, and strangers. Of the corollary victims of IPH who were family members, almost half were under 18 years old (Smith et al., 2014). A recent national study highlighted that the use of firearms in a domestic homicide event increases the risk of multiple victims, particularly for male perpetrators (Kivisto & Porter, 2020).

Corollary victims represent approximately 20% of all intimate partner homicides (IPH), and, as noted, many are children. This study used National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) data (2003–2017) to compare all IPH incidents with a child corollary victim (n ¼ 227) to all IPH incidents where a child was present but not killed (n ¼ 350). Risk factors for child fatality during an IPH were examined. For each risk factor, study authors calculated the odds ratio for child death during the IPH, adjusting for multiple comparisons. Perpetrator history of suicidal behavior, rape of the intimate partner victim, a non-biological child of the perpetrator living in the home, and perpetrator job stressors increased odds while prior separation of the IPV victim from the perpetrator decreased the odds of a child death during an IPH incident. These findings can help direct prevention efforts for child death during IPH.