10-15% of all children ever born have been killed by their parents.[1]

All the quotes in this article are taken from scholarly literature on the subject of infanticide.

“Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunters and gatherers to high civilization, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.”— Laila Williamson, anthropologist, American Museum of Natural History.[1]

“Infanticide, the deliberate killing of newborn infants, was the most universal method of population control in preindustrial societies.”[2]

“Until the fourth century, infanticide was neither illegal nor immoral.”[3]

“Common law in England presumed that a child was born dead. According to early Jewish law, an infant was not deemed viable until it was thirty days old. During the 1950s the chief rabbi of Israel, Ben Zion Uziel, said that if an infant who was not yet thirty days old was killed, the killer could not be executed because the infant’s life was still in doubt.”[3]

“Most children in antiquity…watched their mothers drown, suffocate and stab their siblings to death. Mothers often simply gave birth to their babies in the privy, smashed their heads in and treated the birth as an evacuation. Romans reported watching hundreds of mothers throwing their newborn into the Tiber every morning. So many infants were killed that even though mothers had eight or more babies the populations of antiquity regularly decreased.”[4]

In the second century A.D., the Roman senator and physician Quintus Marcius Barea Soranus wrote an influential treatise on gynecology that included a section entitled “How to Recognize the Newborn that is Worth Rearing.”[4]

“Mass burials of thousands of sacrificed infants have been discovered in early states from Germany and France to Carthage, where archaeologists found one cemetery filled with over 20,000 urns containing bones of children sacrificed by their parents…”[4]

“Early reports of burning and eating of children in human sacrifices were followed in classical Athens by the practice of keeping victims called Pharmakoi who were ritually stoned to death as scapegoats for the sins of others.”[4]

“In India, children were sacrificed in quantity to goddesses well into the nineteenth century.”[4]

“Abandonment or exposure represents one of the oldest methods of infanticide. History is replete with stories of babies abandoned and left to die as a result of starvation, dehydration, or animal attack… Ancient Greeks and Romans readily accepted the practice of exposure to eliminate unwanted, deformed, or illegitimate children. Historians estimate that 20 to 40 percent of all babies were abandoned during the later Roman Empire.”[3]

“Suffocation has been one of the most common methods of infanticide throughout the ages. ‘Overlaying,’ the practice of suffocating or smothering an infant in bed, occurred in medieval England. Overlaying remained a problem in England into the twentieth century. In 1894 a London coroner reported that over 1,000 infants died as a result of overlaying.”[3]

“The practice of drowning unwanted infants at birth is a long held practice in China. The anthropologist Steven Mosher describes how a bucket of water is readied at the bedside to drown female newborns. This practice was so prevalent in 1943 that an official government publication prohibited the drowning of infant girls.”[3]

“Infant girls born in India were often drowned in a pit filled with milk, referred to as ‘making them drink milk’ (quoting Larry S. Milner, Hardness of Heart Hardness of Life: The Stain of Human Infanticide).”[3]

“Swaddling or restraining infants to calm or contain their movements has been a near universal practice, although it was almost entirely discontinued in the United States and England by the end of the eighteenth century. If performed improperly, swaddling can result in suffocation and permanent injury. Swaddled infants could be ‘laid for hours behind the hot oven, hung on pegs on the wall, placed in tubs and in general left like a parcel in every convenient corner’ (quoting Lloyd deMause, “The Evolution of Childhood,” in The History of Childhood).”[3]

“From 1968 to 1975, infanticide of all ages accounted for almost 3.2% of all reported homicides in the United States.”[5]

“In 1983, over six hundred children in the United States were reported killed by their parents.”[5]

“From 1982-1987, approximately 1.1% of all homicides in the United States were children under one year of age.”[5]

In 1995 the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect estimated that nearly 2,000 infants and young children die each year from abuse or neglect. Fatal abuse may result from one incident (e.g., shaking the baby) or repeated abuse and neglect over a period of time. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, approximately 700 homicide victims under the age of six were reported in 1997; the majority (71%) of these children were murdered by a parent.[3]


[1] Infanticide.org

[2] Amazon.com

[3] DeathReference.com

[4] PsychoHistory.com

[5] Infanticide.org

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