This booklet provides an overview of the scope of killing of children, adolescents1 and young adults. The analysis starts at the global level and then considers the main world regions where data are available. Subsequently, it covers various types of child killing within and outside the family, the latter category including the killing of children in the context of organized crime, particularly as a consequence of drug trafficking, community violence, gang-related violence and violent extremism. The focus then shifts to the link between lethal and non-lethal violence against children. Lastly, the criminal justice and policy responses used to combat various forms of serious violence against children are examined.
Data on the killing of children, adolescents and young adults are quite scarce, and different age breakdowns are sometimes used by countries when collecting data on homicide victims. This makes it challenging to draw comparisons across countries. Since one of the aims of this booklet is to highlight how the rate of lethal victimization increases significantly with age, children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 29 are considered. This broader framework of analysis is intended to capture the comparatively higher levels of lethal victimization that are encountered in the population groups spanning adolescence and early adulthood. UNODC is mandated to improve the quality and availability of crime statistics to support policy development in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice.
The killing of children and adolescents is an area that has been under-researched at the global level and sex-disaggregated data on the killing of children, adolescents and young adults are only available for a limited number of countries worldwide. Regional estimates of the number of victims in each specific population group could only be provided for Europe and the Americas, while the other regions provided insufficient or no data. This study was undertaken in an effort to give an overview of the scale of this problem and shed light on the specific vulnerabilities faced by individuals affected by homicide from the first very hours of life up until early adulthood. A better understanding of the specific risks faced by those individuals will enable policymakers to devise more effective crime prevention interventions for tackling the homicide of children, adolescents and young adults, with the the last of those three subpopulations accounting for a significant share of all homicide victims recorded in certain countries. Because of certain challenges related to the recording of age in homicide cases, the possibility of underreporting child homicide should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics presented in this study. In addition, killings of very young children perpetrated by parents or other family members can go undetected, as such cases lend themselves more easily to the reporting of a false cause of death.
This booklet presents national, regional and global estimates of the homicide rate among children, adolescents and young adults on the basis of the UNODC-collected data for the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (hereafter referred to as the “Crime Trends Survey”). Homicide trends are discussed for the period 2008–2017; however, owing to the fact that the only possible disaggregation from the 2017 data was for the age groups 0 ̶ 14 and 15 ̶ 29 years, 2016 was treated as the latest year with available data when presenting detailed analyses of annual homicide rates and counts.
Source: UNODC, 2019