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


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.

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Correspondence to Jay C. Thomas.

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Duncan, A., Thomas, J.C. & Miller, C. Significance of Family Risk Factors in Development of Childhood Animal Cruelty in Adolescent Boys with Conduct Problems. J Fam Viol 20, 235–239 (2005).

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  • childhood animal cruelty
  • physical child abuse
  • sexual child abuse
  • family violence