Relationships of US youth homicide victims and their offenders, 1976-1999

Harry Moskowitz, Danielle Laraque, John T. Doucette, Eric Shelov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Homicide is the second leading cause of death in children aged 0 to 19 years. Tailoring violence prevention programs to high-risk individuals requires understanding victim-offender relationships. Objective: To elucidate differences in the relationships between homicide victims aged 0 to 19 years and their offenders. Design: Cross-sectional study using the Uniform Crime Reports: Supplemental Homicide Reports, 1976-1999. Setting and Participants: The Supplemental Homicide Reports contain incident-level information about criminal homicides, including location and victim and offender characteristics. National coverage is approximately 92%; 70 258 victims were studied. Main Outcome Measures: Differences in the relationships of homicide victims and offenders based on sex, age, population of homicide location, and weapon. Results: Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) are reported. Using strangers as the referent group, murdered girls were 3.6 (95% CI, 3.4-3.9) times more likely to have been killed by family members and 21.3 (95% CI, 18.5-24.4) times more likely to have been killed by intimate partners than murdered boys. Victims younger than 10 years were 33 (95% CI, 30.4-36.1) times more likely than victims older than 10 years to have been killed by a family member and 2.4 (95% CI, 2.2-2.6) times more likely to have been killed by someone else known to them. Stranger homicides occurred in areas with approximately 145 000 more residents (P<.01). Handguns were more likely to be used during homicides committed by strangers (P<.01). These associations remained after adjusting for potential confounders. Conclusions: Future violence prevention programs may have more effect when targeted to specific sex and age groups. Elucidation of the origins of sex differences, focus on evidence-based child abuse prevention efforts, and enforcement of current gun control laws may help reduce the number of homicides among children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-361
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


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