Severe abuse often is the motivation when a child kills a parent, reports the Associated Press. In the most recent example of such a homicide, an 8-year-old Arizona boy is accused of murdering his father and another man. Police say the boy planned and meticulously carried out the shootings, but they haven’t discussed a motive. Child psychologists and others say that while many factors could cause a child to kill a parent, abuse is the most common one.
No homicides were committed in the United States by a child 8 and younger between 2005 and 2007, according to FBI statistics. Twenty-one children ages 5 to 8 did so in the 10-year period ending in 2004, the statistics show. “These are head-scratchers, especially when you have young people,” said defense attorney Paul Mones, who has represented children accused of killing their parents and written a book called “When a Child Kills.” He said that when it does happen, the overwhelming majority do so for one of a handful of reasons–mental health issues within the family, or physical, emotional or sexual abuse in the home. “Many of these kids who commit homicides suffer from some level of traumatic stress disorder,” Mones said. “They’re living in an environment that is oftentimes extremely dysfunctional, oftentimes violent.”