Gregory Ramey Cox News Service Jan. 31, 2005 12:00 AM DAYTON, Ohio - A friend recently stopped by my office to ask about his 7-year-old son. His child refuses to sleep at night unless there is some type of audio distraction in his room, such as a radio or white noise machine. "Should I be worried?" he asked.
I get lots of similar questions from parents concerned about whether their children's behaviors are normal or indicative of some deep psychological problem. Most of the situations are pretty typical, and do not need any special attention or professional intervention.
However, one behavior is clinically significant - cruelty to animals by children. Many research studies have reported that childhood cruelty to animals may be the first serious warning sign of later problems. Such behavior appears to be linked to conduct disorders, delinquency and criminal behavior.
Anywhere from one-fourth to two-thirds of violent adult offenders report a history of animal abuse during their childhood or adolescence, a rate substantially higher than groups of normal adults. Animal abuse, either by adults or by children, occurs at an alarming rate in homes where children are physically or sexually abused. Animal cruelty by children is more frequent in families where there is spousal abuse or repeated physical punishment of older children and adolescents.
There are many reasons why children abuse animals. For some, it simply is a matter of control. They obtain some level of emotional gratification out of exhibiting the ultimate control - pain and death - over another. Other children simply act out what has been done to them or their parent. In families where violence is common, children learn that hurting an animal is as acceptable as hurting another human being.
Children hurt animals as a way to channel the aggression that they feel but cannot act out in appropriate ways. All children occasionally have intense feelings of anger and rage. Most youngsters learn acceptable ways to manage those feelings. Some children hurt animals because they either don't know how to deal with those feelings, or don't care if they hurt another person or animal.
Hurting animals may be the first clinical sign of a child without a conscience. They do what they feel, and it doesn't matter what effect their behavior has on others, whether that be another person or an animal.
It's important to distinguish between intentional cruelties by children versus behavior by young children that reflect their developmental immaturity. Many preschool youngsters may pull the tail of their cat, sit on their puppy or step on a bug. These behaviors are not clinically significant, but rather reflective of the child's cognitive development. These types of situations require education and correction, not professional assistance .I usually discourage my friends from seeking professional help for dealing with routine childhood problems. Most parents do just fine relying on their own skills, perhaps with some suggestions from friends and family.
However, if your child has routinely engaged in cruelty to animals, seek professional assistance. This is one of those early warning signs that require an immediate and serious response from parents and professionals.
Puppy hanging 'an act of pure evil' by Conor Kane Monday February 23 2009
GARDAI and animal welfare experts are investigating the death of a dog which was alleged to have been hanged by a seven-year-old after being dragged behind a bike through a housing estate. The terrier puppy was dead by the time volunteers from the Tipperary SPCA were notified of the sickening incident, which occurred in Clonmel last week. One animal worker described the act as "pure evil".
Photographs of the dead puppy, with what appears to be a bathrobe belt around its neck, have been given to gardai and the animal's death is now under inquiry.Conor Hickey of the TSPCA, said welfare officers were coming across more and more cases of dogs and other animals being tortured and killed by children -- thrown from heights, tied to railway tracks, burned or beaten."Our problem is that it's hard to prove it was one person. Most people don't want to get involved, even if they know who was responsible," he said.
Gardai are also investigating an incident in Clonmel in which a woman found her dog's head on the back door.
ANIMAL CRUELTY among children can be an early warning of a propensity toward criminal behaviour, delegates were told at a conference in Dublin yesterday.
There are several theories that suggest children who are cruel to animals could potentially kill humans in adulthood. What do you all think? This story is on BBC news website: A seven-year-old boy has been filmed going on the rampage at a popular zoo in Australia, killing rare reptiles and feeding live ones to a crocodile.
Footage from the security cameras at Alice Springs Reptile Centre caught the child smiling as he killed a total of 13 animals. During his 30-minute spree, he was seen hurling the animals over the security fence into the crocodile enclosure.Zoo officials described the boy's actions as "unbelievable". They are considering suing the parents as the boy is too young to be prosecuted.'Difficult to replace'
The attack happened on Wednesday morning after the boy entered the zoo by jumping over the security fence and evading sensor alarms.Over the next half hour, he bludgeoned some of the animals to death with stones and hurled others over the two fences surrounding the crocodile enclosure.At one point, he tried scaling the outer enclosure himself to get to "Terry", the 11ft (3.3m) saltwater crocodile. A turtle, four Western blue-tongued lizards, two bearded dragons, two thorny devil lizards and the zoo's 20-year-old goanna were among those killed. Zoo director Rex Neindorf said many of the animals were rare or mature and would be difficult to replace.
"The fact a seven-year-old can wreak so much havoc in such a short time, it's unbelievable," he told Reuters news agency. Mr Neindorf said the boy had "clammed up" when questioned by police. As children under the age of 10 cannot be held accountable for their actions in the Northern Territory, the zoo would be seeking to take action against the parents. "We'll be looking at suing the parents, who were supposedly in control of him at the time," he said.