Advertisement

Traumatized Witnesses: Review of Childhood Exposure to Animal Cruelty

  • Roshni Trehan LadnyEmail author
  • Laura Meyer
Brief Report

The multifaceted nature of the human-animal bond has been well-documented throughout history (Braje 2011). Much attention has been paid to the benefits that may accrue, at least to humans, from interacting with non-human animals (referred to in this paper as simply “animals”), and fields of study have developed around the therapeutic potential of these interactions (Braje 2011; Flynn 2011). What is less understood, but is of equal relevance to researchers, is the “dark side” of the bond: animal cruelty, including abuse and neglect.

National and cultural variation in attitudes toward these behaviors have been noted; countries and cultures with more progressive ideas about animals have widely acknowledged the pain and fear they experience, and how these responses are analogous to those of humans. In contrast, cultures in which animals are devalued and their abuse normalized may foster the social acceptability and frequency of cruelty (Plant et al. 2016). Animal cruelty has also been...

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Mal Plant for his encouragement and his support of this work. Mal has always been a champion for those who cannot speak for themselves, and has been instrumental in developing the fundamentals of The Link in Eastern Europe. The authors would also like to extend their thanks to Eleonora Gullone, Ph.D., Phil Arkow and Daniel Maier-Katkin for reviewing the document draft and making a number of invaluable suggestions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclosure of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards and Informed Consent

This paper did not involve the use of human subjects.

References

  1. Aguirre, V., & Orihuela, A. (2010). Assessment of the impact of an animal welfare educational course with first grade children in rural schools in the state of Morelos, Mexico. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38(1), 27–31.Google Scholar
  2. Arbour, R., Signal, T., & Taylor, N. (2009). Teaching kindness: The promise of humane education. Society and Animals, 17(2), 136–148.  https://doi.org/10.1163/156853009X418073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ascione, F. R., & Shapiro, K. (2009). People and animals, kindness and cruelty: Research directions and policy implications. Journal of Social Issues, 65(3), 569–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ascione, F. R., Weber, C. V., Thompson, T. M., Heath, J., Maruyama, M., & Hayashi, K. (2007). Battered pets and domestic violence: Animal abuse reported by women experiencing intimate violence and by nonabused women. Violence Against Women, 13(4), 354–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baldry, A. C. (2003). Animal abuse and exposure to interparental violence in Italian youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(3), 258–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S., & Wheelwright, S. (2004). The empathy quotient: An investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(2), 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker, F., & French, L. (2004). Making the links: Child abuse, animal cruelty and domestic violence. Child Abuse Review, 12, 399–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becker, K. D., Stuewig, J., Herrera, V. M., & McCloskey, L. A. (2004). A study of firesetting and animal cruelty in children: Family influences and adolescent outcomes. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(7), 905–912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berrend, P. (n.d.) The invisible rape of Europe. Retrieved from http://theinvisiblerapeofeurope.weebly.com/the-romanian-extermination-enterprise.html.
  10. Braje, T. J. (2011). The human-animal experience in deep historical perspective. In T. J. Braje (Ed.), The psychology of the human-animal bond; a resource for clinicians and researchers (pp. 62–80). New York: Springer Science.Google Scholar
  11. Browne, J. A., Hensley, C., & McGuffee, K. M. (2016). Does witnessing animal cruelty and being abused during childhood predict the initial age and recurrence of committing childhood animal cruelty? International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology., 61, 1850–1865.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X16644806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buka, S. L., Stichick, T. L., Birdthistle, I., & Earls, F. J. (2001). Youth exposure to violence: Prevalence, risks, and consequences. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 71(3), 298–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daly, B., & Morton, L. L. (2008). Empathic correlates of witnessing the inhumane killing of an animal: An investigation of single and multiple exposures. Society & Animals, 16(3), 243–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeGue, S., & DiLillo, D. (2009). Is animal cruelty a “red flag” for family violence? Investigating co-occurring violence toward children, partners, and pets. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(6), 1036–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeViney, E., Dickert, J., & Lockwood, R. (1983). The care of pets within child abusing families. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4(4), 321–329Google Scholar
  16. Dolby, N. (2017). Critical experiential education in the honors classroom: Animals, society, and education. Honors in Practice -- Online Archive, 260, 70–88 http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nchchip/260.Google Scholar
  17. Dutton, D. G. (2000). Witnessing parental violence as a traumatic experience shaping the abusive personality. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 3(1), 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. European Union (2010). Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union. Official journal of the European Union C83 (Vol. 53, p. 380). Brussels: European Union.Google Scholar
  19. Evans, S. E., Davies, C., & DiLillo, D. (2008). Exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis of child and adolescent outcomes. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13(2), 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faver, C. A., & Strand, E. B. (2003). Domestic violence and animal cruelty: Untangling the web of abuse. Journal of Social Work Education, 39(2), 237–253.Google Scholar
  21. Faver, C. A. (2009). School-based humane education as a strategy to prevent violence: Review and recommendations. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 365–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Felthous, A. R., & Bernard, H. (1979). Enuresis, firesetting, and cruelty to animals: The significance of two thirds of this triad. Journal of Forensic Science, 24(1), 240–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Flynn, C. P. (1999). Animal abuse in childhood and later support for interpersonal violence in families. Society & Animals, 7(2), 161–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Flynn, C. P. (2011). Examining the links between animal abuse and human violence. Crime, Law and Social Change, 55(5), 453–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Girardi, A., & Pozzulo, J. D. (2015). Childhood experiences with family pets and internalizing symptoms in early adulthood. Anthrozoös, 28(3), 421–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gullone, E. (2012). Animal cruelty, antisocial behaviour, and aggression: More than a link. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Gullone, E., & Plant, M. (2014). Nothing happens in isolation. In The Invisible Rape of Europe, http://theinvisiblerapeofeurope.weebly.com/nothing-happens-in-isolation.html.
  28. Gullone, E., & Robertson, N. (2008). The relationship between bullying and animal abuse behaviors in adolescents: The importance of witnessing animal abuse. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Henry, B. C. (2004). Exposure to animal abuse and group context: Two factors affecting participation in animal abuse. Anthrozoos, 17(4), 290–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hensley, C., & Tallichet, S. E. (2005). Learning to be cruel?: Exploring the onset and frequency of animal cruelty. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49(1), 37–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(8), 797–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kellert, S. R., & Felthous, A. R. (1985). Childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals. Human relations, 38(12), 1113–1129.Google Scholar
  33. Larsen, K. (1982). An examination of the cases of 41 arsonists with a conclusion advocating reality therapy as opposed to individual therapy-Firesetting by children and youngsters. Skolepsykologi, 19, 36–47.Google Scholar
  34. Lockwood, R. (1998). Factors in the assessment of dangerousness in perpetrators of animal cruelty. Humane Society of the United States, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  35. Lucia, S., & Killias, M. (2011). Is animal cruelty a marker of interpersonal violence and delinquency? Results of a Swiss national self-report study. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 93–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McDonald, S. E., Graham-Bermann, S. A., Maternick, A., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2016). Patterns of adjustment among children exposed to intimate partner violence: A person-centered approach. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 9(2), 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McDonald, S. E., Cody, A. M., Collins, E. A., Stim, H. T., Nicotera, N., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2017a). Concomitant exposure to animal maltreatment and socioemotional adjustment among children exposed to intimate partner violence: A mixed methods study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 1–13.Google Scholar
  38. McDonald, S. E., Dmitrieva, J., Shin, S., Hitti, S. A., Graham-Bermann, S. A., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2017b). The role of callous/unemotional traits in mediating the association between animal abuse exposure and behavior problems among children exposed to intimate partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 72, 421–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McPhedran, S. (2009). A review of the evidence for associations between empathy, violence, and animal cruelty. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Merz-Perez, L., Heide, K. M., & Silverman, I. J. (2001). Childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against humans. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(5), 556–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller, K. S., & Knutson, J. F. (1997). Reports of severe physical punishment and exposure to animal cruelty by inmates convicted of felonies and by university students. Child Abuse & Neglect, 21(1), 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Murrell, A. R., Merwin, R. M., Christoff, K. A., & Henning, K. R. (2005). When parents model violence: The relationship between witnessing weapon use as a child and later use as an adult. Behavior and Social Issues, 14, 128–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nicoll, K., Trifone, C., & Samuels, W. E. (2008). An in-class, humane education program can improve young students’ attitudes toward animals. Society and Animals, 16, 45–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pagani, C., Robustelli, F., & Ascione, F. R. (2008). Animal abuse experiences described by Italian school-aged children. In F. R. Ascione (Ed.), The international handbook of animal abuse and cruelty: Theory, research, and application (pp. 247–265). West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Plant, M., van Schaik, P., Gullone, E., & Flynn, C. (2016). “It’s a Dog’s life”: Culture, empathy, gender, and domestic violence predict animal abuse in adolescents—Implications for societal health. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 0886260516659655.Google Scholar
  46. Reyes, C. L. (2016). Statistics and measurement of animal cruelty. In M. P. Brewster & C. L. Reyes (Eds.), Animal cruelty: A multidisciplinary approach to understanding, 2nd ed (pp. 141–156). Durham: Carolina Academic Press.Google Scholar
  47. Riggs, D. W., Taylor, N., Fraser, H., Donovan, C., & Signal, T. (2018). The link between domestic violence and abuse and animal cruelty in the intimate relationships of people of diverse genders and/0r sexualities: A binational study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–27.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518771681.
  48. Tardif-Williams, C. Y., & Bosacki, S. L. (2015). Evaluating the impact of a humane education summer-camp program on school-aged children's relationships with companion animals. Anthrozoös, 28(4), 587–600.Google Scholar
  49. Tedeschi, P. (2014). The emergence of callous and unemotional traits in the developing child: Exposure to animal abuse as a form of psychological violence. In The Invisible Rape of Europe, http://theinvisiblerapeofeurope.weebly.com/the-emergence-of-callous-and-unemotional-traits-in-the-developing-child.html.
  50. Thompson, K. L., & Gullone, E. (2006). An investigation into the association between the witnessing of animal abuse and adolescents’ behavior toward animals. Society & Animals, 14(3), 221–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vaughn, M. G., Fu, Q., DeLisi, M., Beaver, K. M., Perron, B. E., Terrell, K., & Howard, M. O. (2009). Correlates of cruelty to animals in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on alcohol and related conditions. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 1213–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Volant, A. M., Johnson, J. A., Gullone, E., & Coleman, G. J. (2008). The relationship between domestic violence and animal abuse: An Australian study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(9), 1277–1295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Voslarova, E., & Passantino, A. (2012). Stray dog and cat laws and enforcement in Czech Republic and Italy. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanita, 48(1), 97–104.Google Scholar
  54. Widom, C. S. (1989). Does violence beget violence? A critical examination of the literature. Psychological Bulletin, 106(1), 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wright, J., & Hensley, C. (2003). From animal cruelty to serial murder: Applying the graduation hypothesis. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 47(1), 71–88.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeThe University of TampaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Professional PsychologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations