Adolescent homicide

Lisa B.E. Shields, John C. Hunsaker, Rahul G. Matnani, Gregory J. Davis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Adolescence represents a tumultuous period as the young adult strives to develop a sense of identity. While homicide has been studied extensively in the forensic pathology literature in both infants and adults over the age of 19 years, there has been a paucity of attention paid to adolescent homicide. This chapter highlights numerous aspects of adolescent homicide, including incidence, gender and age of the victims, and the lethal method used. The manners of adolescent death, causes of adolescent homicide, and associated risk factors, including drug/alcohol use and easy access to firearms, are described. Insight is provided into the psychopathology of the offenders focusing on their psychiatric states and family dynamics. The similarities and differences in trends of adolescent homicide from an international perspective in relation to the United States are also reviewed. The next section of the chapter discusses school shootings with a detailed analysis of the trends of school-associated student homicides, specific school shootings portrayed in the media, and characteristics of a school shooter. Hate crimes and bullying among adolescents are also addressed. Murder-suicides or dyadic deaths are mentioned with a particular focus on the killing of a child by a parent. Commentary is provided about two unusual homicides, namely, hunting accidents and homicidal Russian roulette, in which a youth may participate. How to determine the manner and cause of death of adolescent homicide from a forensic-pathology perspective is discussed with a focus on deaths due to firearms and sharp-force injuries. Five cases of adolescent homicide are presented including autopsy findings, scene analysis, and police evidence. Two of these cases reflect murder-suicide of a parent and adolescent. In conclusion, numerous strategies that have been developed internationally to prevent adolescent homicide are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForensic Pathology of Infancy and Childhood
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781617794032
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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