Endangered Children: Homicide and Other Crimes, Second Edition, 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Endangered Children

Homicide and Other Crimes, Second Edition, 2nd Edition

By Lita Linzer Schwartz, Natalie K. Isser

CRC Press

287 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2011-12-13
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From infancy onward, children are in danger from many sources, including parental and sibling abuse, drug abuse and mental illness in the home, parental neglect, and poverty. Removing an at-risk child from a troubled environment brings on a host of new concerns and is not always a panacea. Endangered Children: Homicide, and Other Crimes, Second Edition focuses on the myriad threats facing children and provides insight into possible solutions.

Beginning with a history of child abuse, the book explores this phenomenon as presented in literature and in other cultural references. It then provides sociobiological and cross-cultural perspectives on neonaticide. It examines motives for abuse and explores how shame and denial of pregnancy can lead to the killing of an infant within moments of its birth.

The book examines legal ramifications to neonaticide in the U.S. and abroad, including psychological and psychiatric defenses. Additional chapters focus on shaken baby syndrome and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, and the book includes a new chapter on postpartum depression. The authors include profiles of several notorious cases, including Susan Smith and Andrea Yates. They also discuss issues related to abortion and euthanasia, and conclude by suggesting preventive measures to child abuse and therapeutic rehabilitation.

Exploring a social tragedy from psychological, sociological, and criminological perspectives, the authors attempt to answer the many questions that arise from these crimes against our most vulnerable, offering readers a thought-provoking resource that is sure to encourage further research and inquiry.


"… well-researched and brilliantly written … discuss therapeutic rehabilitation and therapeutic jurisprudence, an interdisciplinary approach that concentrates on applying laws in a manner that will enhance the psychological well-being of those to whom they are applied. They call for judges, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, and others to work together to develop strategies to protect children."

—Colonel Kuljeet Singh, CPP., in Security Management Magazine

"The book is attractive, well written and has a great deal of documentation."

—Anchor Point

"The book… is well organized and the sections are easily located in the Table of Contents… the issues are presented logically and supported with a good review of the research literature… authors have uncovered relevant findings to support their arguments."

—Journal of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, Vol. 34, No. 3

"The book presents both sides of the issues and is well-illustrated with cases."

—Elizabeth S. Bishop, Ph.D.

Table of Contents

Children: An Endangered Species Throughout History

Gender and Child Homicide

The Literary Legacy

Legacies of Ancient Cultures


Fairy Tales

Child Homicide in Literature and Operas

A Historical Note

Neonaticide in Theory and in History: Who Are the Perpetrators?

Sociobiological Perspectives

Cross-Cultural Perspectives

A Brief Look at Asian Cultures

Cultural Causes in the West

A Historical Perspective


Penalties of the Past

Motives for Abuse

Why Murder?


Psychological Explanations

The Role of Shame

Denial of Pregnancy

Psychological/Psychiatric Diagnoses

Reaction and Revenge

Neonaticide and Its Alternatives

Options in Pregnancy


Carrying the Pregnancy to Term


A Comment on "Illegitimacy"

Placement for Adoption



Neonaticide and the Law

Legal Ramifications

Variations in Charges and Sentencing

Should Neonaticide Be Punished? If So, How?

Anglo-American Laws and Sentencing

American Law

What About the Fathers?

In Transition: From One Form of Child Abuse to Another

Neonaticide Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Shaking Impact Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Gaining Evidence

Postpartum Depression Disorders

Differentiating the Disorders

Case Examples

The Andrea Yates Case

Other Cases

What Can Be Done

Early Diagnosis

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

Legal Controversies

Infanticide, Filicide, and Other Abuses


What Kind of Parent … ?

Other Motives

Faith Healing

Cultural Differences

Paternal Homicide

Child Abuse


Legal Ramifications

The Survivors

If These Are the Causes …

The Law and Crimes Against Children

The Insanity Defense

Postpartum Depression Versus Postpartum Psychosis

Alternative Defenses

In Defense of the Defendant

Variations in Penalties

An Interesting Question

Are the Laws Antifemale?

Looking Back and Ahead

Choice and Reproduction Arguments

The Abortion Controversy

Religious Views

Language and Imagery

In the Courts

Does Fetus = Person?

Euthanasia and Infanticide

To Treat or Not to Treat

Conjoined Twins

Legislative and Judicial Responses

Eugenics, Mercy Killing, and Euthanasia

The Parental Positions

Child Abuse: Preventive Measures

Prevention of Neonaticide

Sex Education

Pregnancy Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Preventing Infanticide and Filicide

Other Alternatives

Preventive Legislation



Summarizing the Alternatives

Concluding Thoughts and Recommendations

The DeShaney Case

Provide Information

Therapeutic Rehabilitation

The Role of Therapeutic Jurisprudence



About the Authors

Lita Linzer Schwartz, Ph.D., is a graduate of Vassar College, Temple University, and Bryn Mawr College, and is Distinguished Professor Emerita of The Pennsylvania State University’s Abington College (née Ogontz Campus). She also holds a diplomate in forensic psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She has received three awards from Penn State: Outstanding Teacher from the College of Education Alumni (1981–1982), Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University (1982), and Career Achievement award from the College of Education (1992). Dr. Schwartz is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Forensic Psychologists as well as a member of the International Council of Psychologists and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. In addition to teaching, she is actively involved in a number of writing projects on topics as varied as adoptive and surrogate parenting, cults and sects, media violence and its impact, gifted children, and female artists and photographers.

Natalie Isser, Ph.D., is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and is Professor Emerita of The Pennsylvania State University’s Abington College. She is a member of the American Historical Association, The Western Society for the Study of French History, and the Delaware Valley Association of Modern European Historians. In addition to the books and articles coauthored with Dr. Schwartz, she has written on French anti-Semitism, human rights, and French public opinion and diplomacy during the Second Empire. She teaches part time and has continued research on a variety of topics such as American melodrama, movies, and history; and the social and cultural roots of American populism.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science
MEDICAL / Psychiatry / General