Disturbing new figures released by one state have shed light on the number of children killed by parents or carers over the past 16 years.
Harrowing figures from the Queensland government have revealed 109 children were killed by a parent or carer over the past 16 years – with 75 per cent of victims younger than five.
New research by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) has shed light on the warning signs that could lead to a parent or carer killing their child, an act known as filicide.
Family violence, alcohol and substance abuse were identified as key risk factors, QFCC principal commissioner Luke Twyford said.
University of Queensland researchers analysed QFCC child death data between 2004 and 2020 to reach their conclusions.
Mr Twyford said between 2004 and 2020, 109 children were killed by a parent or carer.
That roughly equates to almost seven children being killed each year.
Disturbingly, Mr Twyford said exposure to domestic or family violence and alcohol and substance abuse appeared in almost half of the filicides examined by researchers.
“Parents’ separation was also identified as a key risk factor, particularly when a filicide event was perpetrated by a father motivated by anger towards their former partner,” he said.
“The research highlighted an increasing risk to a child when a parent makes a threat to kill, regardless of whether any other risk factors are present, indicating that every threat must always be taken seriously and investigated.
“While the presence of these factors does not mean a filicide event is inevitable, this research reinforces that risk factors can’t be ignored when considering the safety of a child.”
In their final report, the QFCC identified fathers were responsible for 34 of these filicide events.
Mothers were responsible for 28 of these events while only three filicides involved both parents.
“The death of any child is a tragedy, but when it happens at the hands of a parent or carer, it is particularly shocking and leaves us wondering how warning signs were missed,” Mr Twyford said.
Mr Twyford said more research was needed to better understand the phenomena of filicides and help authorities “find the opportunities that will help us save a child from death”.
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