When abuse turns to murder

Ken Kimsey has brought a tragic item to my attention from the Metro Atlanta State News. A 15 year old, diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, last week killed his great grandmother and seriously wounded his grandmother, who had reared him since the age of 5.

While the phenomenon of patricide and matricide is generally considered to be separate to that of parent abuse, having different causation (see for instance Heide’s work), the levels of aggression and violence to parents, with threats to kill, do make it a serious risk in the worst situations. Where parents have called the police, these incidents need to be taken extremely seriously, and the safety of the parents made a real priority. We hear of instances of excellent practice, but also of real uncertainty as to how to deal with the issue.

UK policing protocols now make clear that the arrest of alleged perpetrators in reported incidents of domestic violence will be normal procedure, but the government’s definition of domestic violence only extends to incidents betweenadults, aged 18 and over, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.” Reference to children and young people is as witnesses and victims, though Crown Prosecution Service policy suggests that they extend their remit to situations “when dealing with criminal offences that occur in a domestic context involving victims and abusers whatever their age”.

There is a need for greater clarity from a procedural point of view, in Britain and worldwide, for the safety of families in the future.

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