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When a parent is killed: Family tragedy is often a mark of our broader failing

Zander, J.P. (2015) When a parent is killed: Family tragedy is often a mark of our broader failing. The Conversation, 15 July 2015 .

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The tragic death of Adelaide AFL coach Phil Walsh has once again brought the issue of family violence to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. Family homicides account for 41% of murders in Australia, with the majority of those being intimate partner homicides. Parricide, or an individual killing their parent(s), accounted for 4.8% of homicides in the ten years to June 30, 2012. It is our third-most-common form of family homicide.

Australia’s rate of parricide is comparable to that reported for other Western nations, which range from 2-6% of homicides. Averaging out to around one death a month, parricide causes significant shock and confusion within the community. With a private memorial service for Walsh being held at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, the question for the community is what can be done to reduce the number of such tragedies.

Current research indicates that offenders tend to fall into one of two basic categories: younger offenders, often in their late teens, who appear to have been victims of ongoing abuse; and older offenders, typically in their mid-20s, who are found to have been suffering from a psychotic episode. As a result of these two issues of abuse and mental illness, many families suffer in silence and shame, but their suffering is often a consequence of a broader failure of society to face up to and act on these social problems.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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