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States Push For Joint Custody Laws As Child Killings Increase

U.S. child killings have risen, with mostly fathers responsible in cases where the parents split up. Yet, multiple states are pushing for or considering joint custody laws, reports The Guardian. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in December found that, nationally, child homicide rates have increased every year by an average of 4.3% during the last decade, “with a precipitous rise from 2019 to 2020 [of] 27.7%”. The Center for Judicial Excellence, a California-based non-profit, reports that fathers have been responsible for 70% of children killed in cases where parents were divorcing or separating since 2008.


While child victims of domestic violence from shootings stood at 146 and 125 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the total jumped to 201, 206 and 188 in 2020, 2021 and last year. Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia have recently passed laws that presume 50-50 custody when parents separate while many others are considering the measure or variations of it. In the 12 months leading up to June 30 last year, Ohio recorded 112 domestic violence deaths, of which 22 were children or teenagers. That is the highest number of such killings since a coalition of support groups known as the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) started tracking data seven years ago. “The pandemic, kids being home, people being forced together because of lockdowns, the inability to access resources – all of those things, we are assuming, are a part of the reason,” said Lisa DeGeeter of the domestic violence network. Of the 22 Ohio children,18 died at the hands of their biological father or stepfather, with a mother co-charged in one of those cases.

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