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Children and Animal Abuse

August 1, 2010

There is a wonderful publication available that is intended to educate teenagers about animal cruelty and abuse. The title is “Understanding Animal Cruelty – A resource book for high-school students and their teachers“. It’s free online in PDF format and it can probably be ordered in hard-copy form as well. Every parent should encourage their child to read it and read it with them. You can find it at:

Although this booklet is aimed at high-school students, abuse by children often starts much earlier and escalates throughout life. Children who abuse animals are also likely to abuse other people (the bully on the playground). They are more likely to commit other crimes such as vandalism and arson. As adults they could easily abuse children – especially their own. Such behavior is due to a serious flaw in their psychological makeup. Whether this flaw is a product of nature or nurture is not known. What is known is that children who grow up in dysfuncional families and broken homes, or have experienced domestic violence firsthand, are more likely to exhibit this propensity. Some infamous criminals and murderers were animal abusers as children.

When they were children:

Albert DeSalvo (The Boston Strangler) trapped dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes.

Edmund Emil Kemper III (who was convicted of killing eight women) decapitated neighborhood cats and put their heads on poles. He also decapitated and cut into small pieces his own pet cat. In later years he did the exact same thing to his mother.

Jeffrey Dahmer (famous for killing, dismembering and cannibalizing 17 men and boys) decapitated dogs and staked cats to trees in his backyard.

The connection between animal abuse and human violence has been well documented. So, if your child or any child you know has exhibited cruel behavior toward an animal, take it very seriously. Don’t slough it off thinking they will grow out of it because chances are good that they will grow INTO it. It is crucial that you take immediate action to nip the problem in the bud. But don’t wait until the animal cruelty rears its ugly head. Teach your children well and early.

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