<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 24, Issue 1, March 2016

Rom J Leg Med24(1)52-60(2016)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

Fatal child abuse in a familiar context - the German Federal Court of Justice and regional courts - a (new) source of information?

S. Kiefer, H. Ackermann, M. Parzeller

Abstract: Introduction: The aim of this retrospective study has been a statistical valid and descriptive data analysis of judicial decisions of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in consideration of the results of the regional court, which adjudged cases of fatal child abuse in a familial environment. Methods: Over a twelve year period (1999 to 2011), all cases of fatal child abuse adjudged and published by the BGH have been analyzed. Furthermore, as far as received, an analysis of the decisions of the regional courts has been performed.
Results: In 60 rulings, 77 victims (35 female, 31 male, 11 unknown) have been found, with a total of 70 offenders (39 female, 31 male). In most cases the biological parents had been the perpetrator (n=67). The main cause of death has been suffocation (n=22), followed by impacts of head injury (n=15). Female offenders (n=36) performed suffocation more often than male offender (n=10), whereas impacts of head injury often have been set by male offender (n=21). In cases of one or more siblings (n= 32) the youngest child was statistical significant (p=0.003369) more often the victim than the others.
Conclusions: The rulings of the BGH and those of the according regional courts can provide a wide range of information about the circumstances of fatal child abuse and might be a good source of data for a cost-effective, retrospective study of fatal child abuse, with the input of information of different areas of expertise (medical, legal, social).
Keywords: fatal child abuse, fatal child maltreatment and neglect, BGH (Federal Court of Justice), judgments.

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