While a mother who kills her own child often gets more media attention, a father is at least as likely to commit what's known as "filicide," according to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Cases like that of Andrea Yates, the Houston woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001, make headlines.
But the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in a report covering 1976 through 2005, said that of homicides involving children 5 and younger, 31 percent were killed by their father and 29 percent by their mother.
John Armstrong, whose ex-wife killed their son in 1997, runs a Web site called Brandon's House in memory of his son (http://www.brandonshouse.org/
), and in an attempt to raise awareness of filicide. Armstrong said parents who kill their children often show no warning signs.
Even thinking back, he can remember only that his former wife told their son, "I brought you into this world; I can take you out." He never thought she would act on it.
"It can be any race, any economic background, any part of town, any way," Armstrong said. "They just kill them."
More than 500 children are killed each year by a parent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Armstrong said the only preventive measure is: If a parent ever feels inclined, get help. Neighbors, friends, even family often don't know problems are lurking in someone's head.
"Like that guy down the street," Armstrong said. "You just see him walking in and out every day, then one day he kills his kid. What warning sign was there?"