Statistics Canada data for 2018 show 7.2 per cent of homicide victims were killed by their sons or daughters in Canada. (File photo)

When family relationships turn deadly

33 per cent of homicide victims killed by family

Sons killing their fathers is still a comparatively rare crime.

In fact, it has not been the focus of research because it is so uncommon, says a former Red Deer criminologist.

Last week, a Stettler man was charged with allegedly killing his father. Last June, a Sylvan Lake man was accused of allegedly killing his Bentley-area father. Both cases are still before the courts.

“It’s quite sensational when you read it in the headlines of a newspaper. Every time a son kills a father, that makes a headline. You don’t write any headlines saying how many sons did not kill their fathers today, and there are many, many, many more of them,” said Bill Stuebing, a retired Red Deer College instructor.

He said when there is a spike in unusual deaths, it’s tempting to say it’s a big problem.

“Making statements about trends over a short period of time is a fool’s game.

“That’s what we frequently do with crime statistics. We make judgments on short-term changes. If you want to make a comment on crime statistics, you want to be looking at 10 to 15 years.”

Statistics Canada data for 2018 show 7.2 per cent of homicide victims were killed by their sons or daughters in Canada.

Victims killed by any type of family member — from spouse to extended family members — made up 33.1 per cent of the 425 solved homicides.

Of those, 14.9 per cent of victims were killed by either a spouse, separated or divorced spouse, or current or former common-law spouse.

Among the other solved homicides, 33.6 per cent were committed by acquaintances, 19.4 per cent by strangers, and 7.9 per cent were the result of criminal ties.

Stuebing said since few fathers are killed by their sons, there’s little hard evidence to research. Crimes can be studied individually, but that doesn’t reveal much, except the nature of that particular incident.

But there are factors that contribute to violence in society, he said.

“Increasingly, we are externalizing violence. Particularly males, and young males, act out their violence.”

Stuebing said in his generation, cursing would be the extent of angry interactions. Now, brandishing weapons is more common, so the probability of lethal results increases.

In 2018, police reported 651 homicides across Canada, 15 fewer than the previous year.

The overall volume and severity of violent crime increased one per cent, but was 13 per cent lower than in 2008, according to the Violent Crime Severity Index.

Red Deer RCMP Sgt. Karyn Kay said violent crime is on the decline in Red Deer, but sometimes, people’s perception does not match the reality.

“Policing has changed. We do more education. We respond to violent crime very seriously,” Kay said.

She said police are working more with communities, and they are holding people accountable. Residents are also standing up against crime.

“Our society has said these things aren’t OK, especially persons crimes.”

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