Thank goodness, it is now a felony in every state for animal cruelty or animal abuse.
Why am I so excited? Not just because I am an animal owner, lover and advocate, but the correlation between animal cruelty and childhood/young adult “psychopathic predisposition behavior” may be diagnosed earlier in their development or learning curve and preventive measures put in place by psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy sessions.
Macdonald’s triad, (also known as the triad of sociopathy or the homicidal triad), first presented as a paper after a landmark psychological study, posited that the most violent offenders tended to share three common childhood traits: obsession with fire-starting, animal cruelty and persistent bed-wetting past the age of five.
The triad was first proposed by psychiatrist J.M. Macdonald in "The Threat to Kill", a 1963 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Small-scale studies conducted by psychiatrists Daniel Hellman and Nathan Blackman, and then FBI agents John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler along with Dr. Ann Burgess, claimed substantial evidence for the association of these childhood patterns with later predatory behavior - to violent behaviors, particularly homicidal behavior and sexually predatory behavior and linked to childhood experience of parental neglect, brutality or abuse.
What Constitutes Animal Abuse or Cruelty
Animal abuse is, in turn, a factor that predisposes to social violence and at the same time, a consequence of it. It is part of the cascade of violence that is reaching us all as individuals and as a society.
Animal cruelty can be either deliberate abuse or simply the failure to take care of an animal. Either way, and whether the animal is a pet, a farm animal or wildlife, the victim can suffer terribly.
Cruelty is "an emotional response of indifference or taking pleasure in the suffering and pain of others, or action that may cause unnecessary suffering has been considered a psychological disorder. The cruelty of children, including animals, is a clinical sign related to antisocial and behavioral disorders. "
Deliberate cruelty may involve beating, shooting or stabbing animals, or setting them on fire. Neglect is not giving an animal necessary food, water, shelter or vet care. Because their misery is often prolonged, animals who die of neglect can suffer just as much as animals that are deliberately harmed.
Violence is "an intentional act that may be unique or recurrent, cyclical, directed to dominate, control, attack or injure others. It is almost always exercised by persons of higher rank, ie, those with power in a relationship, but also may be exercised on objects, animals or against oneself. "
There is a well-documented link between animal cruelty and violence against people. Those who abuse animals are also likely to harm people—including their own family members.
Violence inhibits the development of people and can cause irreversible damage and it takes different forms of expression that can range from verbal abuse to homicide.
Animal cruelty and family violence
Domestic abuse is directed more against the weaker animal and child abuse go hand in hand usually. Parents who ignore the needs of an animal or abused animals tend also to transfer this to their children.
It should be emphasized that the detection, prevention and treatment of violence against animals is an act of humanity itself. Animals are creatures found in relation to humans, at a level of inferiority in the evolutionary scale that makes us responsible for their welfare, as having supremacy carries with it an obligation, a responsibility that is to fulfill as guardian of the lower species in intellectual terms. If you really want to combat violence, a part of our struggle is also to eradicate the abuse of other living beings.
The second point worth noting is that this violence toward animals can serve as a detector and alert to domestic violence, as the animal cruelty and human violence have a direct relationship. We know that children who abuse their pets can witness acts of cruelty against humans or themselves be abused by someone older and more powerful.
These children, both abused and abusers, they are learning and internalizing the violence perpetuated themselves to be older and to have their own families. This abuse may be the only visible sign of a family in which there is abuse, and this can help find the person responsible for the violence in the family.
A person who abuses an animal does not feel empathy for other living beings and are at higher risk of inflicting violence on others. The American Psychiatric Association considers it one of the diagnoses to determine behavioral disorders. If a child talks about the mistreatment of his pet he could be telling us also of his own suffering.
Threatening to hurt the pet can be a form of psychological violence used against children to be "good behavior" or as a way to keep secret any abuse to which they are undergoing. According to experts, star or observe acts of cruelty could be as traumatic as being a victim of physical abuse and, therefore, it is highly likely that the child has a high risk of becoming an abusive parent, who in turn can produce another generation of violent children.
Some of the features that may occur in children and young people who abuse animals are feeling helpless and under the control of others by using animals as victims to prove their authority and power, using animals as scapegoats for anger they feel toward other authority figures who abuse; are discriminated against in any way; receive severe punishment, have low self-esteem, feel great distrust of society, have poor grades and are socially isolated. Animal abuse is more prevalent in households where there are other forms of violence, alcohol or drug abuse.
Animal Cruelty and Childhood “Psychopaths”
"Murderers ... their dubious careers often start as children to kill or torture animals," said Robert K. Ressler, the profiles of serial killers created for the FBI.
While there is significant disagreement amongst psychologists and psychiatrists about whether a child can be diagnosed as a sociopath, there are early warning signs that signal when a child is deeply troubled. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, common among sociopaths, can be given at the age of 18 to an adolescent who has exhibited symptoms since the age of 15.
Cruelty to Animals
A child with an interest in watching others suffer may start by inflicting harm on animals. The National District Attorneys Association states that the boys responsible for most of the shootings in American schools between 1997 and 2001, including Columbine, had a history of killing animals. Serial killers Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Rader, some of the most famous sociopaths in history, also tortured and killed animals as children.
As a boy, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks; Theodore Bundy, implicated in the murders of some three dozen people, told of watching his grandfather torture animals; David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.
Lack of Empathy
A 2009 article in Molecular Psychology points to a lack of empathy and remorse as a common trait among sociopaths. While a psychopath knows the difference between right and wrong, it makes no difference to him. If a child frequently hurts or bullies others, but displays no noticeable emotion when their victims express pain, they may have a glitch in the brain network connecting the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala. This neurological trait has been noted in sociopaths and psychopaths, and may explain their inability to care about the harm they cause or the consequences of their actions. A lack of conscience and compassion are classic traits of a sociopath.
Vandalism and Setting Fires
Although the majority of fires set by children are ignited out of curiosity rather than malice, a pervasive interest in setting fires may be an early sign of antisocial or sociopathic behavior. Salisbury, MD-based Focus Adolescent Services cautions that if a child over the age of eight starts a fire, it is more likely that the behavior represents underlying mental illness than in younger children. Of adolescent firestarters, Focus states that the behavior often represents true criminal intent. Psychologists caution that children in whom firestarting behavior coexists alongside animal torture and excessive bedwetting are in particular danger. Often, children exhibiting these symptoms are victims of abuse or neglect themselves.
A paper published in a psychiatry journal in 2004, “A Study of Firesetting and Animal Cruelty in Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes,” found that over a 10-year period, 6-to-12-year-old children 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.
In an October 2005 paper published in Journal of Community Health, a team of researchers conducting a study over seven years in 11 metropolitan areas determined that pet abuse was one of five factors that predicted who would begin other abusive behaviors.
In a 1995 study, nearly a third of pet-owning victims of domestic abuse, meanwhile, reported that one or more of their children had killed or harmed a pet.
Cruelty causes violence, a U.S. study found that not all animal abusers become mass murderers, but all serial murderers have a history of animal abuse (Gena Icazbalceta). But with proper guidance from their parents will learn to understand that animals are sensitive to pain.
The education given to children helps them to establish their values and behavior patterns.
They acquire their moral and ethical principles in imitation of the models they have around them.
Considering the above, we can only conclude that there is an urgent need of integrated efforts of parents, teachers, social workers, veterinarians, pediatricians, animal protection associations and psychologists to prevent animal abuse and subsequent transformation in social violence.