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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Children and adolescents experience disproportionately high levels of violent victimization, much of which occurs at the hands of their parents. This essay reviews data on the incidence and impact of intrafamilial child homicide, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Although both mothers and fathers offend against children, fathers are more likely to be responsible for severe, injury-causing, and lethal forms of physical abuse of children and predominate as perpetrators of intrafamilial child sexual abuse, mostly against daughters. Mothers, in contrast, are responsible for the majority of infanticide. Contrasting perspectives of the criminal justice and child protection systems on these gender differences are highlighted. This essay also emphasizes the substantial international variation in rates of intrafamily violence against children and considers the importance of social and cultural factors to understanding and reducing children’s victimization.

Keywords: child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, child homicide, gender and violence, international comparison

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