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Animal abuse also threatens kids

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  • Pat Scala
    By JOSEPH ROBERTIA Peninsula Clarion One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2004
      Peninsula Clarion
      "One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill
      or torture an animal and get away with it." < Margaret Mead,
      The recent stabbing death of a sled dog in Teller involving five
      teenagers underscores the importance of teaching children compassion for
      Abusive and violent acts toward animals have been recognized as
      indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to
      Research has shown that many violent criminals abused animals or
      practiced their crimes on animals before turning to human victims.
      The FBI has stated that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the
      traits that regularly appears in their records of rapists and murderers.

      Ted Bundy, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer and numerous
      other notorious killers all tortured and killed animals before moving on
      to humans.
      This has led to organizations, such as the Humane Society of the United
      States (HSUS), which, through its First Strike program, educates
      communities about the connection between animal cruelty and human
      violence, and what people can do to combat animal cruelty.
      First Strike offers several tips that show red flags for parents and
      those who work with children to watch for, but the organization also
      advises how to respond if signs of animal cruelty are observed.
      Harming animals isn't a phase that all children naturally go through.
      Animal cruelty should never be attributed to a stage of development.
      That's not to say that innocent exploration and simple curiosity may not
      result in some children inadvertently killing insects or pets, but few
      kids torture pets.
      All acts of cruelty should be addressed by parents and those who work
      with children, and it is important for kids to recognize that calculated
      animal cruelty is motivated by a desire to harm.
      As such, it is particularly important to intervene when a child is
      insensitive to the obvious distress of an animal, repeats a harmful
      behavior or derives pleasure from causing an animal pain.
      Those who suspect a child has, or is, deliberately harming animals,
      should talk to the child immediately to try and determine the cause of
      the behavior.
      It also is important to talk with their friends, teachers and parents to
      learn more about their activities. School counselors, family counselors
      and pediatricians may be able to provide helpful information.
      Cruelty often is associated with children who do poorly in school, have
      few friends and low self-esteem.
      Bullies and kids with a history of truancy, vandalism and other deviant
      or antisocial behavior are at risk for developing tendencies of animal
      Children as young as 4 have been reported to deliberately harm animals,
      although such behavior is much more commonly reported in adolescence.
      Also, repeated animal cruelty is seen more often in boys than girls.
      It is important to get to the source of the problem for the safety of
      animals, but also for the safety of the child, since research has proven
      that a child's violence against animals often represents displaced
      hostility and aggression stemming from neglect or abuse of the child or
      another family member.
      Parents can instill a sense of respect for all life by using real-life
      situations to teach by example. Young children can be invited to help
      feed birds and squirrels or taught to rescue bugs trapped in the house
      rather than squashing them.
      Older children can be taught by discussing animal cruelty cases that
      have been publicized in the news or on the Internet or by visiting local
      animal shelters to learn about the harsh reality of pet overpopulation
      and what becomes of unwanted pets.
      These methods can instill children with a sense of empathy < an
      understanding or process of imaginatively entering into another's
      feelings < that can guide them toward being kind and respectful in their
      relations with animals and people, as well.
      Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. He has worked
      with wildlife and domestic animals for more than 10 years as a
      veterinary technician, a zoo keeper, and most recently as a zoologist
      for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He welcomes any pet-related
      questions or story ideas, but please none of a veterinary nature. Ideas
      and questions can be sent to his attention by e-mail at

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