Animal abuse is a daily occurrence in today’s world, and sadly, violence against humans is also all too common. It is sometimes thought that when children are cruel to animals, it is just an exploratory stage of development, but researchers have connected children’s acts of animal abuse with bullying, corporal punishment, school shootings, sexual abuse and developmental psychopathic behaviors. . Young children need to be taught that animals have feelings and are not to be treated as toys, explaining that it is not okay to hit or mistreat an animal, just as it is not okay to mistreat another child. Most children learn the importance of being kind, caring and nurturing , but if they are in homes where there is domestic violence, they may learn about abuse by being its victim….Dad hits mom….mom hits the child….the child hits the dog. Documentation shows that most violent and aggressive criminals have abused animals as children, with cruelty to animals being one of the traits that regularly appear in records of serial rapists and murderers.
All children who abuse animal certainly do not grow up to become serial killers, but a child who displays unusual or continual fascination with harming animals is in need of professional help Regardless of the cause, animal cruelty in children should not be taken lightly . Killing a hamster or torturing a dog is usually a precursor to more serious violent actions. Children who harm family pets are at risk for other kinds of inappropriate behavior and need help. (What goes along with torturing animals is often setting fires, which should also be taken seriously) ALL animal abuse situations should be taken seriously
- Animal abuse may indicate that a deeper problem exists. Children who abuse animals may be living in an abusive situation, and may be the only visible sign of an abusive family. While child and spousal abuse usually occur behind closed doors, animal abuse is more often committed in the open.
- Acts of cruelty to animals may be a child’s cry for help…..before the violence escalates to include human victims. Many animal welfare advocates say that children who harm animals are usually victims themselves. An abused child will often lash out, and an animal often is the closest, most vulnerable target.
What can be done?
- Support legislation: Learn about the animal abuse laws in your state and advocate for stronger, appropriate legislation.
- Report animal cruelty: If you witness an act of animal cruelty taking place, report it to the authorities, giving as many specific details as possible. Doing so may save both animals and human lives, and gives a voice to someone in need.
- Educate others: Encourage others to show kindness toward animals. Without being judgmental, you can often improve living conditions of animals (and humans) by showing you care.
- Increase public awareness: Work with your local animal shelters and domestic abuse shelters to raise awareness of the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence. Violence is violence, whether it is done against a two-legged or a four-legged being. When you hear about someone being cruel to an animal, your next thoughts should be, “Who else will be harmed?” and “How can I help?”
The cycle of violence can be broken only if caring, concerned people have the courage and empathy to act. If you suspect either domestic abuse or animal abuse, don’t ignore it. Animal abuse in families often is one of the first indicators that the family needs help. Paying attention to animal abuse provides an important tool with which to guard children from abuse and neglect, provide needed support to families, and protect animals.