In Review: ‘Deadly Games: Kids who Kill Kids’

After writing a whole honours thesis on the topic of child liability under criminal and civil law, I was keen to read this book, written by Gabrielle O’Reilly and Liz Frame. Certainly not for the faint hearted, or for those who are already feeling a little overprotective of their kids, Deadly Games progresses through two centuries, providing short factual information on almost a hundred cases of murder committed by children (as defined as under 18 years of age). Starting as far back as the 1800s and moving to cases as recently as a few years ago, and the authors provide an overview of the background for each case and details of the crimes and punishments, or lack of, for the accused.

The authors’ writing style is quite basic; however the content, if your initial reaction to it does not leave you recoiling, is quite intriguing. It is a good comparison of the different people, lifestyles and punishments regarding child murder over hundreds of years. For any person interested in criminal law, child law or even with an overarching curiosity about “what makes them tick?” this book is a good compilation of information.

Story lengths range from one page to six pages in length, so quite short and sweet. The stories do not provide any criminal law analysis or discussion behind the case; they simply provide a factual account of the sequence of events obtained through publicly available sources. In places it reminded me of a public information internet page, it is nonetheless interesting to read and easier than googling all of these cases separately.

Without a specific interest in criminal law or child law this book may not be your cup of tea and I would be far from pushing it on you. However, if a one stop shop on child murder from centuries ago to present sounds, for whatever reason, like something you would benefit from reading, by all means give it a read. Coming from a background of criminal, mental health and child law, I found it a thought-provoking read.