19 children dead, two more critical. When will this end?
Nineteen children have died as a result of murder or manslaughter in 2018. Journalist SHERELE MOODY asks what will it take to end these deaths?
AS I sit down to write this, there are two Australian children fighting for their lives in hospital.
By the time you read this, both may be dead, the victims of alleged acts of extreme violence.
A three-year-old girl was critically injured during an alleged sexual and physical assault by a male in Brisbane on November 9.
Police say the 25-year-old allegedly bashed and violated her, fleeing the scene and the injured child who was thankfully found by a grandparent and rushed to hospital.
The alleged attacker is charged with torture, grievous bodily harm, sexual assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, breach of a domestic violence order and drug offences.
In Sydney, a four-week-old girl was allegedly shaken so hard by her father that doctors do not expect her to survive catastrophic brain, neck and stomach injuries.
A 25-year-old man is charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.
We can only hope that, by some miracle, they pull through.
The last thing anyone wants is for these girls to be added to the toll of violence that has claimed 208 lives in Australia so far this year.
A total of 19 children and young people have died as a result of murder or manslaughter in 2018, with four of their killers ending their own lives as well.
Men are suspected in the deaths of 14 children and women were allegedly involved in the deaths of five.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
It is hard to get angry about these deaths when we view the victims as numbers, so, I wanted to share with you this photograph of three tiny coffins, replete with teddy bears, knitted dolls, flowers, candles and children's photos.
If this picture does not make you want to act to end violence, nothing will.
This desperately sad moment was captured a little over a month ago on October 12, as loved ones commemorated the lives of sisters Charlotte, Alice and Beatrix Harvey, their mother Mara Lee and their grandmother Beverley Ann Quinn.
Three-year-old Charlotte and two-year-old twins Alice and Beatrix were allegedly killed by their father, Anthony Robert Harvey, 24, in Bedford, WA, on September 3.
Harvey is also charged with murder over the deaths of Mara and Beverley.
Charlotte, Alice and Beatrix died some six months after the murders of two Canberra children in February.
Police believe eight-year-old Ezvin Mugera and his five-year-old sister Furaha were killed by their mother, Anne Muhoro, who then ended her own life.
Firefighters found the bodies of the Kenyan-born children after they extinguished a blaze that tore through their home in the suburb of Bonner.
It is not known how Muhoro killed the children, but the coroner has confirmed they were dead before the fire started and that their mother died after setting the home alight.
Brodie Moran was the third child allegedly killed in 2018.
The eight-year-old died on March 8 at his home on the picturesque Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
Brodie's mother, Joanne Finch, 41, is charged with his murder. Brodie's father was overseas when the child died.
In April, two-year-old Safa Annour died in a Canberra hospital from injuries sustained during a violent beating.
Her killer has not been charged but police recently released a video showing the little girl travelling on public transport with two adults just before she was attacked.
They hope the footage will trigger someone's memory and eventually lead them to the person who ended Safa's life.
Safa was not the only child to die in April. That month, a man was charged with manslaughter following the death of an unnamed 17-year-old boy in a horrifying vehicle incident in Campbelltown.
In May, Peter Miles shot his four grandchildren - Ayre, Kayden, Rylan and Taye Cockman - to death as they slept in their beds.
He also murdered his wife Cynda and the children's mother Katrina at the family's Margaret River property.
After killing his family, Miles phones 000 and then killed himself.
On June 8, a five-year-old boy was allegedly stabbed to death following a "domestic dispute" in Carlingford, NSW.
The boy, who cannot be named, was allegedly killed by his father, who is charged with murder.
The following day, 20-month-old Newcastle lass Hayley Rose Banister died from a heart attack as an ambulance rushed her to hospital.
Her tiny body was ravaged by shocking injuries, with police saying she had broken ribs, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and cuts and bruises to her head, face and torso.
Hayley's mother Jessica Greatorex and Greatorex's former partner, Timothy Whitely, are charged with murder.
On July 6, John Edwards took two high-powered pistols to the Sydney home of his former partner and their two children.
As his 15-year-old son Jack hugged 13-year-old Jennifer, Edwards coldly and callously murdered them.
Edwards then went to his own home and killed himself. Jack and Jennifer's mum arrived from work a short time later to find her children dead.
About 10 days passed before two more children died.
Eight-year-old Rua Petersen and his 15-year-old sister Bella were allegedly killed by their big brother Teancum Vernon Peterson-Crofts, 19, in their home at Ellenbrook, WA.
Rua and Bella's mother, Michelle Petersen, was also killed. Peterson-Crofts faces three charges of murder.
On August 28, nine-year-old Lachlan Bond was murdered by his mother, Erica Bond, at their home in Wyongah.
After killing Lachlan, Bond ended her own life.
Media reports claimed a number of these people were grappling with family court and domestic violence issues and these may have played a part in the deaths of some of the children.
Until investigations are fully completed, we cannot know why their lives were taken or if those charged were responsible.
I write a lot about gendered violence, so I often hear the phrase "but women kill more children than men".
It's a favoured trope rolled out by men's rights activists (MRAs) hoping to deflect attention away from the irrefutable fact that most violent deaths in our country are perpetrated by males.
When it comes to the slaughter of children, there is no doubt that feminists and MRAs both want to end the killings but we cannot find common ground from which to do so.
The main point of difference comes down to statistics.
Data on the killing of children varies depending on your source and the country it is produced in.
The Australian Institute of Criminology, for example, says most violent deaths of children are familial homicides, with 52 per cent of these perpetrated by males and 48 per cent by females.
On the other hand, there are research organisations overseas that say 51 per cent of filicides are committed by women and 49 per cent by men.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says, on average, 25 children will die because of murder or manslaughter in Australia each year.
According to the ABS, one in 10 kids will experience violence or abuse before they reach the age of 15.
Female children are most at risk, with 16 per cent of girls and 11 per cent of boys suffering sexual or physical violence before they reach adulthood.
This all adds up to tens of thousands of children across the country being harmed by someone they love.
Not all these children will die, but for many the impacts of abuse will cause them trauma throughout their lives.
And some will grow into adults who will perpetuate these violent acts on their own offspring.
There will always be disagreement about the interplay of gender and violence, but feminists and men's rights activists do agree on this one thing - there is never an excuse to harm children.
The lives of children are precious.
Our kids need all adults to work together to make changes that ensure they are kept safe and that they can live long lives free of harm.
We cannot - we must not - lose another child this way.
News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of the 2018 BandT Women in Media Social Change Maker Award and has multiple Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her work reducing violence against women and children. She is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the creator of the Femicide Australia Map.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support phone the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.