Ewing’s insightful 1990 book, entitled When Children Kill: The Dynamics of Juvenile Homicide, in which the author conducted an exhaustive review of the social science literature on juvenile homicide then available, will be cited frequently in this chapter in cases where his conclusions are in accord with those of the authors. Indeed, in his work Ewing included two chapters—one that reviewed psychological research on juvenile homicide and another that focused specifically on relatively younger offenders—that are devoted to answering a set of questions similar to those addressed here. This chapter will however, differ from Ewing’s work and from other recent discussions of youthful homicide predictors (e.g., Hardwick & Rowton-Lee, 1996; Holmes &Holmes, 1994) in several important respects.
To begin, the current review will make a greater effort to uncover differences in the individual and familial predictors of preteen versus adolescent homicide. A major contributor to this process will be a systematic comparison of several preteen homicide offender case studies with a sample of adolescent homicide offender case studies. Despite the previously discussed shortcomings inherent to the case-study design, the majority of research efforts to date that have focused exclusively on preteens are, in fact, case studies. Therefore, one can argue that in order to move beyond the current understanding regarding preteen homicide, it is necessary to draw as much information as possible from these articles as opposed to ignoring this pool