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Various Prospects of Being the Victim of a Violent Death (From Verbrechensopfer, P 301-320, 1979, Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff and Klaus Sessar, ed. - See NCJ-72716)

NCJ Number
K Sessar
Date Published
20 pages
Murder is examined as a violent offense especially dependent on offender-victim relationships in the private sphere.
Homicides resulting from premediated assault have never amounted to more than 0.05 percent of the total offenses in West Germany, but the homicide rate has been growing since 1963. Studies have established that contrary to popular belief the victim is acquainted with the murderer in as many as 93 percent of the cases not due to negligence. One significant study breaks down the frequency distribution for various relationships in the following manner: married couples, 20 percent; other relatives, 3 percent; friends, 7 percent; acquaintances, 30 percent; passing acquaintances, 7 percent; and strangers, 13 percent. A second particularly significant variable is victim age. In general, acquaintances are most threatening in the 10-to-30 and over-60 age groups, while family relationships pose the greatest danger of murder for the interim years. Victims up to 10 years old are almost always murdered by their parents, either at birth by lower-class unwed mothers (one victim in three of this age group) or between ages 2 and 3 by either parent. Victims in the 10-to-20 year-old group are on the average girls around 18, often foreigners, and the crime is frequently sexually related. Victims of the 20-to-30-year-old group are usually men, and the crime scene is frequently a bar or pub. The motive may be money or a woman but is most commonly vague. The greatest threat in the 30-to-40-year-old and the 40-to-50-year-old groups is the spouse; in the older group women are always victims, never offenders. From age 50 the probability of murder declines; from this point on murders of parents by children are observed more frequently than earlier. In the over-60 group murder in conjunction with robbery is most common. Murder may also result from disputes between rest home residents, usually men. Given the nature of such crimes, special preventive efforts like family crisis intervention would seem the most promising means of control. Notes and a 32-item bibliography are supplied.


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