Numerous scientific studies have proven that violence toward animals and toward people are linked. Where there is animal abuse, there is a greater likelihood of child, elder and/or spousal abuse.Animal abuse is often an indicator of other crimes and it may be the earliest clue we have to identify a child at risk of future violence. Awareness of the link has led to the establishment of cross-reporting systems between child protection, animal protection and police authorities in most states in the U.S.
Not every child who abuses animals will grow up to become a violent criminal. But children who abuse animals, show no remorse, and receive neither help nor consequences are more likely to:
- Be a witness to and a victim of domestic violence at home
- Take out their rage and aggression on animals because they are smaller and weaker
- Turn their violence on fellow humans when they are big enough to do so.
Raising Empathetic Children with Humane Education
Child psychologists tell us the single most important factor in raising children to become moral, responsible citizens is to foster empathy in them at the earliest age. Lack of empathy for their victims is the common denominator between violent criminals. Instilling in children the ability to imagine themselves in the place of another helps vaccinate them against future acts of violence.
Building empathy in children is most easily accomplished through a connection to animals, as children readily identify with a creature who is smaller and more vulnerable than themselves. Research shows that compassionate attitudes toward animals are transferred to fellow humans when children become adults.
Research Studies on the Human-Animal Violence Link
To learn more about the extensive research on the link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans see the resources at nationallinkcoalition.org/resources/articles-research