Australia: Filicide overwhelmingly linked to male perpetrators who 'deeply believe their actions are justified', experts say

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'ANU PhD candidate Adelaide Bragias studies the gendered nature of domestic homicides and said previously filicide was seen as a women's crime linked to mental health issues.

"Generally speaking, a child is more at risk of filicide by their mother in their first year of life .. and usually that's because of severe mental illness … really severe depressive or psychotic symptoms," she said.

"As they get older it's their father that's more likely to kill them and usually our research is showing us that it is retaliatory or aggressive in nature."

"Generally what we see with women who kill their kids, it's a very different set of circumstances. It's less likely to be about control. It's less likely to be perpetrated in the context of domestic and family violence," she said.

"Oftentimes we see that it will occur in the context of, she's had significant mental health issues, particularly things like paranoid delusions where she becomes fixated on this idea of, 'I have to kill the children to protect the children'.

Dr Boxall said it's sometimes seen by mothers as the last line of defence in the presence of an abusive father.

"I've certainly reviewed cases where she killed the kids because she didn't see any other way out. Where in the context of the separation it might have been that he was granted custody, she felt like there was nothing else she could do and he was a very abusive person."'

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