Childhood Animal Cruelty Is “Red Flag” For Violent Offenders
According to this 2003 University of Southern Florida study, animal abuse during childhood is a “red flag” of adult violent behavior, recommending that adults intervene and take the first signs of cruelty by a child toward an animal seriously. The full results of this study are published in the book, Animal Cruelty: Pathway to Violence Against People, by Kathleen Heide and Linda Merz-Perez.
According to the results of this study of 100 male violent and non-violent inmates in a maximum security facility, animal abuse during childhood was a “red flag” of later adult violent behavior.
The violent offenders were more likely as children to have committed some extreme acts of abuse against an animal. In some cases, the type of abuse that was inflicted on an animal was similar to the type of act the offender later committed on a person. Violent offenders rarely expressed any remorse for their actions or empathy toward the animals.
The results of this study suggest that “early intervention following an act of animal cruelty is imperative to helping ensure that adolescents do not follow a path of violent behavior.” Specifically, helping a child develop empathy for an animal may be an effective preventative strategy for avoiding violence later on.