Age effects on juvenile homicide perpetration

Date03 August 2015
Published date03 August 2015
AuthorLaura Hammond,Maria Ioannou
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology
Age effects on juvenile homicide
Laura Hammond and Maria Ioannou
Dr Laura Hammond and
Dr Maria Ioannou are
Senior Lecturers, both at the
International Research
Centre for Investigative
Psychology (IRCIP),
University of Huddersfield,
Huddersfield, UK.
Purpose In order to address a notable gap in the research literature, the purpose of this paper is to
examine age-related differences in juvenile homicide perpetration.
Design/methodology/approach Data on 150 juvenile homicide offenders and their offences was derived
from material available within the public domain, including media reports, case studies, court reports and
previously published studies. Comparisons were then made between those aged 14 and under (n¼63)
and those aged 14-17 (n ¼87) across a range of offender, victim and offence-related variables.
Findings There were no significant differences between the child (U-14) and adolescent (14-17) offender
samples on any of the measured variables. The two groups had similar backgrounds, selected similar types
of victims, had comparable breakdowns of different types of victim-offender relationship and had similar
patterns of weapon use.
Research limitations/implications The fact that the two groups did not differ significantly has notable
implications in practical and applied domains. By identifying risk factors for juvenile homicide perpetration,
findings open up a range of possibilities for identification, investigation and intervention. In addition, findings
might inform the development of offender treatment and rehabilitation programmes. Key limitations relate to
the quality and quantity of data employed. Ways of remedying these weaknesses in future research are
Originality/value This is the first study to directly compare child and adolescent perpetrators of homicide
over a broad range of offender, victim and offence attributes.
Keywords Homicide, Offender characteristics, Offender background, Juvenile homicide, Age effects,
Child murderers
Paper type Research paper
A considerable body of research has explored the phenomenon of homicides committed by those
undertheageof18(oftenreferredtoasjuveniles). Empirical patterns have been established in
relation to: the background characteristics of juvenile homicide offenders (see, e.g. Gerard et al.,
2014, for a summary); different types of and varieties of juvenile homicides (cf. Shumaker and Prinz,
2000); the characteristics of victims of juvenile homicide (e.g. Bailey, 1996; Rodway et al., 2011);
weapon use and preferences in juvenile homicides (Carcach, 1997; Rodway et al., 2011), gender
differences in the perpetration of juvenile homicides (e.g. Heide and Sellers, 2014) and gender/age
interactions in juvenile homicide (Heide et al., 2011). As Gerard et al. (2014) demonstrate in their
extensive review of the literature on youths who kill, studies have helped to elucidate the
phenomenon of juvenile homicide, shedding light on the fundamental characteristics of different
aspects of the offence.
However, research has been heavily biased towards male adolescent (teenage) homicide
perpetrators and their offences (Heide, 2003). Few studies have included female perpetrators of
Received 22 June 2015
Revised 29 June 2015
Accepted 3 July 2015
DOI 10.1108/JCP-06-2015-0017 VOL. 5 NO. 3 2015, pp. 163-176, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
PAG E 16 3

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