Pet Abuse – Top 7 Signs Your Child May be an Abuser
Pet abuse has been an important issue in the last two decades particularly because it is identified as one of the tell-tale signs of an even more violent behavior directed towards other human beings. Studies have shown that nearly all violent crime perpetrators have a history of animal cruelty in their profiles.
Several cases have seen their share of media attention: high-school killers Kip Kinkel of Oregon and Luke Woodham of Mississippi reportedly tortured animals before going on their killing sprees; the infamous Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were said to have boasted about mutilating animals for fun; the “Boston Strangler” Albert deSalvo, guilty of killing 13 women, admitted to trapping dogs and cats in crates and shooting arrows through them when he was young. The list of such cases is long and horrific; this has prompted various organizations to step up awareness in order to call people’s attention to the fact that violent crimes can indeed be detected and prevented early on, if society as a whole knows what signs to look for.
Most recently in the news, a teenage boy from Miami named Tyler Hayes Weinman was arrested and charged with animal cruelty which has resulted in the deaths of 19 cats in the town of Cutler Bay. According to FBI profiler Candace DeLong, it is not uncommon for children to harm pets, or even end up mutilating or killing them. It could be a form of experimentation and usually, kids who venture into it come out of it disgusted and most likely do not repeat the act. But for someone like Weinman, who in all probability has committed all 19 of those animal deaths, something is internally wrong. He could be mentally ill or he is simply a
sadistic killer-in-the-making, testing out his “skills” on unfortunate pets around his neighborhood.
Whether Weinman will turn out be a homicidal maniac–as research suggests he most likely will–remains to be seen. The significance of this issue to the rest of us is this: how can we tell if OUR kids are pet abusers? Here are some red-flag behaviors that a child may exhibit towards a pet. Once detected, it is advisable that parents step in and immediately correct the behavior before it worsens.
- Locking pets inside enclosed spaces
- Chasing after an obviously scared pet
- Intentionally feeding pets harmful substances
- Taking pleasure in watching a pet who is in pain
- Tying strings or chords on pet’s neck, limbs or paws
- Violently lashing out at a pet after being reprimanded by an adult
- Intentionally putting an animal in danger such as throwing it out the window or kicking it onto a busy street
If a child shows any one or a few of the symptoms above, the following measures may help:
- Talk to your child and explain that as it is not okay to hit other people, it is also not okay to hit or hurt animals. Make it clear that it is just as serious an offense as taking something without permission.
- If, after all the repeated explanations, your child persists in hurting your pet, consult a child developmental specialist or ask your pediatrician for a referral if you don’t know any.
- If a teenage child engages a pet dog in dog-fighting, check into what is causing this behavior—it might be peer pressure, gambling, alcohol, or drugs. Seek professional help and enlist the support of other family members, friends and even teachers.
Since children are naturally curious and easily excitable, especially little ones, it is alright to shrug off one-time incidents such as vigorous shaking or incessant chasing. It would be unnecessary to immediately make a connection between these completely innocent deeds to potentially sadistic crimes in the future. However, repeated aggressive and cruel actions should be nipped in the bud right away as these could be the start of much more disturbing behavior which, if left unchecked or untreated, could pose serious dangers to pets and people alike.
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The Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org/hsus_field/first_strike_the_connection_between_animal_cruelty_and_human_violence/index.html
Just One More Pet: http://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/warning-signs-that-your-child%E2%80%99s-behavior-is-dangerous-to-pets/