Men who murder children inside and outside the family

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Kate Cavanagh
  • R. Emerson Dobash
  • Russell Dobash


The focus of this paper is on men who murder children. The data are drawn from a larger study of Murder in Britain, 1 which examined all types of murder and included data from a total sample of 866 case files of both men and women convicted of murder and serving a life sentence in England or Scotland. This analysis is based on a subset of ninety cases of men convicted of the murder of a child. Two types of child murder are compared: men who kill children within the family (FM, n = 49) and men who murder children outside the family context (NFM, n = 41). The two types of murder are compared in terms of the childhood and family backgrounds of the perpetrator, the circumstances at the time of the murder and elements of the murder event itself. The main findings reveal many significant differences between the two groups of perpetrators, indicating a need for more nuanced policy and practice responses to the murder of children.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-688
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005