How Could a Parent Kill Their Child?

Published: 13 Feb 2014
How Could a Parent Kill Their Child?

Usually I write about stuff that makes families happy. But today something has been in the news that I felt I had to address. I’m not really sure how to write about it, but I’m sharing what I can anyway, hoping it will be helpful for someone – or at least work as therapy for me.

How Could a Parent Kill Their Child?

I’m lost for words. I feel physically ill, and so sad that I can barely stand it.

I woke up this morning to the news that a father, estranged from his family in some way still not known, has killed his own son, 11 years old, in a violent attack following cricket training in a Melbourne suburb overnight.

How can a parent kill his or her own child?

It defies comprehension.

I don’t think that any explanation will ever be enough to explain how a father can throw his child from a bridge, or a mother can take the life of her little one.

Dr Phillip Resnick is a psychiatrist who specialises in this area. He describes five reasons parents kill their their own children:

  1. Altruism: Yes, you heard right. Altruism. Here’s how this one works. A parent decides life isn’t worth living. But before they take their own life, they take their kids’ lives too… the kids will be better off in heaven with them, so the reasoning goes.
  2. Psychoticism: The legal term here is insanity, whether temporary or otherwise. It may be induced by depression, drugs, estrangement (that leads to depression), or some kind of delusion or hallucination.
  3. Discipline gone wrong: I’ll never forget the words a friend shared with me after working for the QLD Department of Child Protection for a few months. He said, “I simply cannot believe the number of excuses I’ve heard for why people throw their infants or toddlers against the wall, or break their limbs.” Some parents simply can’t control themselves, and tragedy awaits.
  4. An unwanted child: Yep. It happens. In fact, US statistics indicate that people are at greatest risk of homicide on the day of their birth.
  5. Revenge: There are some adults who get so upset with their partner that they really, delusionally, believe that somehow this will be the best way to get back at them.

Ultimately I don’t care what the reasons are. No reason or excuse is going to take back the tragic circumstances that have left a family shattered, and the rest of us reeling in disbelief.

What’s the solution?

Some people will claim we need better mental health care, more legislation, tougher laws and penalties, or some other state-sanctioned intervention.

Me? I’m not convinced that any of that will help. And to be truthful, I think that the answer is far simpler. We just need to be kinder to one another. And especially our kids. Simple? Ill-informed? Deluded? Perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, it is the best answer we have.


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