Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Infanticide has a lengthy history that reaches back to ancient societies. In some instances, it took place as part of socially sanctioned religious sacrifice, was a means to dispose of physically defective infants, was a way to dispose of female infants when males were preferred, or was a form of population control. Although condemned for more than 2,000 years in societies that adhered to the Judeo-Christian tradition, infanticide was accepted in ancient Greece, Rome, China, India, Western Europe, and early German society. Although the study of crime in general has been relatively neglected with respect to preliterate societies, infanticide has been reasonably well-documented. Perhaps this is because infanticide was especially abhorrent to the missionaries, travelers, and ethnographers who studied these societies, and therefore, they made note of it. Several surveys suggest that infanticide, although rare in nearly all societies, was practiced in more than half and perhaps in as many ...