Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 235-239

First online:

Significance of Family Risk Factors in Development of Childhood Animal Cruelty in Adolescent Boys with Conduct Problems

  • Alexander DuncanAffiliated withSchool of Professional Psychology, Pacific University
  • , Jay C. ThomasAffiliated withSchool of Professional Psychology, Pacific UniversitySchool of Professional Psychology, Pacific University Email author 
  • , Catherine MillerAffiliated withSchool of Professional Psychology, Pacific University

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The literature suggests that physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, paternal alcoholism, paternal unavailability, and domestic violence may be significant in development of childhood animal cruelty. Two groups of early- to late adolescent boys (CTA and N-CTA) in residential treatment for conduct disorder were compared in the current study on histories of these family risk factors. The adolescents in Group 1 were comprised of boys who had conduct problems with documented histories of animal cruelty (n = 50; CTA). Group 2 consisted of adolescent boys (n = 50; N-CTA) with conduct problems, but without documented histories of animal cruelty. Results showed that children in the CTA group had significantly greater histories of physical and/or sexual child abuse and domestic violence in comparison to children in the N-CTA group. These results suggest that physical and/or sexual abuse to a child, and exposure to domestic violence, may be significant in the development of childhood animal cruelty.


childhood animal cruelty physical child abuse sexual child abuse family violence