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Infanticide

Prevalence, Time Of Occurrence, Methods, Vctims Of Infanticide, Female Infanticide, Theories, Acceptability And Legality


Infanticide is the deliberate killing of infants under the age of one year. This restricted definition conceptualizes infanticide as a postnatal abortion procedure rather than as a type of child abuse. Infanticide and abortion are often used as family planning mechanisms, carried out to protect the health of unweaned children, the family economy, or the mother's social standing. Information on the killing of children older than one year is given in this entry only when it pertains to other issues being discussed or when the ages of the victims seem to include infants less than a year old.

In modern societies, where infants are born in hospitals, their birth certificates confer citizenship. However, throughout most of human history, babies were born at home and infanticide was a private action done by family members. For this reason, reports about infanticide are often absent or inaccurate, particularly in places having laws against the act.

A number of authors infer infanticide from family size and female infanticide from sex ratios. These indirect measures have been criticized because small family size may result from long postpartum sex taboos, high child mortality, selling unwanted children, or giving them up for adoption. Skewed sex ratios may result from neglect of daughters or underreporting females to census takers.


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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Social Issues