This mini presentation on animal abuse
by children will help law enforcement officers understand the dynamics of animal cruelty crimes as committed by youthful offenders. Understanding this nexus will assist the responding officers in identifying and solving current crimes. In addition, it is hoped that through referral and related services, we can prevent future offenses from occurring. Animal cruelty starts very early,
appearing in a mean age of 6.75 years and red flags those children and adolescents who are at greatest risk for continued anti-social behavior. It should be noted that cruelty to animals
as referenced here does not include developmentally immature teasing, such as a child pulling a kitten along by the tail, but rather serious torture, such as setting pets on fire. An article on developmental links between cruelty to animals and human violence notes, that although the immature child may never progress to the commission of human violence, the malicious youngster rehearses his
sadistic attacks, perhaps on animals, perhaps on other people,
perhaps on both, and continues into his adult years to perpetrate the same sorts of sadistic acts on human beings. Why do children abuse animals? They might be repeating a lesson that they learned at home. They learn from their parents to react to
anger or frustration with violence, which is often directed at the only individuals in the family who are more vulnerable than they are: their animal companions. Researchers have also connected children’s acts of animal abuse with bullying, corporal punishment, school shootings, sexual abuse, and developmental psychopathic behaviors; situations wherein children feel
powerless and seek their own victims in order to exert control and gain a sense of power. Some motivations for animal abuse may include: Curiosity or exploration: The animal is injured or killed in the process of being examined, usually by a young or developmentally-delayed child. Peer pressure: Peers may encourage animal abuse or require it as part of an initiation rite. Mood enhancement: where animal abuse is used to relieve boredom or depression. Sexual gratification: bestiality. Forced abuse: when the child is coerced into animal abuse by a more powerful individual. Childhood abuse of animals can have long-term effects. One ten-year study found that children between the ages of 6 and 12 who were described as being cruel to animals were more than twice as likely as other children in the study to be reported to juvenile authorities for a violent offense. A four-year study by the Chicago Police Department revealed a startling propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims, with 65% of people arrested for animal cruelty also having a criminal record for battery against a human. When counselors at several federal penitentiaries evaluated inmates for levels of aggression, seventy percent of the most violent prisoners had serious and repeated animal abuse in their childhood histories, as compared to six percent of non-aggressive prisoners in the same facilities. It is important for law enforcement officers to recognize youthful offenders who commit animal abuse, and to take the appropriate action to prevent future crimes from occurring. Officers can notify family services, animal control officers, or juvenile and family violence investigators, so they can be aware of potential criminal activity.