Bulletin of the World Health Organization

The epidemiology of child homicides in South Africa

Shanaaz Mathews, Naeemah Abrahams, Rachel Jewkes, Lorna J Martin & Carl Lombard

Volume 91, Number 8, August 2013, 562-568

Table 3. Demographic characteristics of child homicide victims, characteristics of the homicide and perpetrator, and circumstances surrounding the homicides, by sex of victim, South Africa, 2009

Characteristic Percentage (95% confidence interval)
All (n = 1 018)a Males (n = 651) Females (n = 363)
Age (years)
< 5 39.6 (31.8–47.8) 29.7 (23.2–37.2) 57.2 (46.2–67.5)
5–9 8.6 (6.6–11.1) 6.5 (3.8–10.8) 12.3 (8.1–18.3)
10–14 10.9 (8.6–13.8) 11.0 (7.9–15.0) 10.8 (6.6–17.3)
15–17 41.0 (33.4–48.9) 52.9 (44.2–61.3) 19.7 (13.8–27.3)
Scene of injury
Own home 34.0 (28.6–39.4) 28.1 (22.7–34.2) 44.0 (36.1–52.2)
Other home 14.2 (10.6–18.8) 16.5 (12.0–22.3) 10.0 (5.9–16.6)
Public space 45.9 (39.5–52.4) 49.4 (42.3–56.6) 39.6 (30.5–49.3)
Place unknown 6.2 (4.1–9.2) 6.0 (3.7–9.6) 6.5 (3.5–11.7)
Carer at time of death
Both parents 29.8 (25.0–35.5) 30.6 (25.3–36.4) 28.9 (21.9–37.1)
Mother 42.8 (36.8–48.9) 39.8 (33.4–46.6) 48.1 (40.9–55.3)
Father 4.6 (2.6–7.9) 5.5 (3.0–10.0) 3.0 (1.2–7.3)
Other 13.6 (10.6–17.3) 14.1(10.2–18.9) 12.7 (8.9–18.0)
None (on the street) 1.9 (1.3–2.9) 3.0 (2.0–4.5) 0
Unknown 7.2 (5.2–9.7) 7.1 (4.8–10.5) 7.2 (4.4–11.8)
Perpetrator
Mother 30.0 (23.4–37.5) 21.3 (15.1–29.2) 45.4 (36.7–54.3)
Father 5.8 (3.5–9.3) 4.9 (2.6–9.3) 7.3 (4.1–12.5)
Other relative 7.8 (5.1–11.6) 8.7 (5.5–13.6) 6.2 (3.5–10.5)
Stepmother/stepfather 3.0 (1.7–5.2) 2.0 (0.8–4.9) 4.7 (2.2–9.6)
Intimate partner of victim 2.6 (1.6–4.3) 1.2 (0.5–2.8) 5.1 (2.7–9.6)
Acquaintance 35.5 (28.9–42.8) 44.9 (38.5–51.5) 18.9 (12.6–27.4)
Stranger 3.8 (2.6–5.6) 4.0 (2.5–6.3) 3.5 (1.5–8.1)
Unknown 11.5 (8.4–15.6) 13.0 (9.3–17.9) 8.9 (5.0–15.4)
Cause of death
Gunshot wounds 11.5 (8.5–15.3) 13.6 (10.3–17.8) 7.6 (4.4–12.9)
Stab wounds 26.2 (20.2–33.3) 33.6 (26.5–41.5) 13.0 (8.4–19.7)
Blunt force trauma 23.5 (19.7–27.7) 24.0 (19.7–28.8) 22.7 (16.1–30.9)
Strangulation/asphyxiation 11.7 (8.6–15.6) 7.2 (4.5–11.1) 19.8 (13.8–27.5)
Fire 2.1 (1.2–3.7) 1.8 (0.8–4.3) 2.7 (1.0–6.8)
Drowning 0.4 (0.1–1.4) 0.3 (0.0–1.5) 0.7 (0.1–3.4)
Multiple injuries 1.2 (0.5–2.7) 1.1 (0.4–2.7) 1.4 (0.4–4.4)
Infant abandonment 15.9 (12.3–20.3) 11.1 (7.9–15.5) 24.4 (18.6–31.2)
Other 5.1 (3.0–8.5) 6.3 (3.7–10.6) 2.8 (1.0–7.1)
Undetermined 2.5 (1.4–4.6) 1.1 (0.4–2.7) 5.1 (2.4–10.3)
Child abuse and neglect
Yes 44.5 (37.5–51.5) 26.8 (20.0–34.8) 76.0 (70.5–80.7)
No 55.6 (48.5–62.5) 73.2 (65.2–80.0) 24.0 (19.3–29.5)
Sexual assault
Yes 10.0 (7.4–13.4) 1.5 (0.5–4.3) 25.3 (18.5–33.7)
No 90.0 (85.9–93.0) 98.5 (95.7–99.5) 74.7 (66.4–81.5)

a This value includes four cases that were excluded from the subgroup analysis because the sex and cause of death could not be determined owing to the decomposition of the body.