Homicide of children in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

  • AH Outwater
  • E Mgaya
  • C Jacqueline
  • S Becker
  • L Kinabo
  • DM Menick
Keywords: Homicide, neonaticide, Africa, Tanzania, surveillance

Abstract

Background: Although data are sparse, it has been estimated that the highest rates of homicide death amongst children are in Africa. Little information is available on ages 0 . 14 years. No known quantitative surveillance of early neonaticide (killed at less than one week) has been conducted previously in Africa.
Methods: A Violent Death Survey following WHO/CDC Guidelines was completed in Dar es Salaam region, Tanzania (population 2.845 million) in 2005. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered and analyzed.
Results:The overall age adjusted rate of discarded and killed children in DSM was 2.05 per 100,000. The rate of early neonaticide was 27.7 per 100,000 while the rate of homicide incidence for children older than one week was 0.54 per 100,000
Discussion: The overall estimated homicide rate for Africa of children under age 15 was 4.53 per 100,000. The rate in DSM was closer to the estimated global rate of 1.7 per 100,000. The results in DSM show that broad age groupings such as "<1 year.", "0-4 years". and "0-14 years." may mask a high incidence of neonaticide and an otherwise low incidence of murdered children . The print media provided good in-depth coverage for a few cases but it is not known if the reported cases are representative.
Conclusion: Eighty percent of homicides of children in DSM were neonaticides. Since it is believed that the forces behind neonaticide are fundamentally different than homicides of older children, it is suggested that data of future surveys be parsed to include neonates, until the phenomenon is more clearly understood and addressed. Further understanding of the mother and father of the deceased is needed. Continued surveillance data collection is important to expand the sample size.
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