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Childhood Cruelty to Animals: A Tri-national Study


Childhood cruelty to animals is a symptom of conduct disorder that has been linked to the perpetration of violence in later life. Research has identified several factors associated with its etiology, including social factors. However, no cross-cultural studies on this phenomenon have been reported. This study investigated childhood cruelty to animals in Japan, Australia and Malaysia. Parents of 1,358 children between the ages of 5 and 13 years completed the Children’s Attitudes and Behaviours towards Animals questionnaire (CABTA) which assesses Typical and Malicious Cruelty to animals. Analyses revealed no overall differences between children from these countries on either scale. However, younger boys were more likely to be cruel than younger girls in each country, and younger children in Australia and Japan were more likely to be cruel that older children in those countries. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research, and recommendations for future studies are suggested.

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The authors would like to thank Yoko Hayashi, I. Ogawa and A. Muramatsu for assistance in translating of the CABTA into Japanese, and Emily Goh for assistance in translating the measure in Bahasa Malaysia. Our thanks also go to the schools and parents who participated in the project, and to the students at Teikyo University of Science and Technology for their help in data collection. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the source of the Japanese pet ownership data cited in this paper. The data were collected by Pet Food Manufactures Association, Japan, and are can be viewed online at

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Correspondence to David Mellor.

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Mellor, D., Yeow, J., Hapidzal, N.F.M. et al. Childhood Cruelty to Animals: A Tri-national Study. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 40, 527–541 (2009).

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  • Childhood
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia