Children In The News
The headlines proclaimed a chilling theme:
Girl Denies Cat Mutilations (Edmonton News)
Teenage Killers Fit Disturbing Pattern (Boston Globe)
Teen to Testify in Cat Killings (Online Iowa News)
The common threads in these stories are acts of cruelty toward animals, from mutilation and torture through violent killing. Sadder yet, the suspects are not hardened adult criminals. They are children.
Increased Awareness through the Net
The 90s abounded in such stories, from the burning of a cat named Olivia by college students in 1997, to the disturbing history of the two young men who shot the Columbine students and sent the whole country reeling into shock. Were the 90s any worse in terms of intentional violence toward animals than any other decade of the last century? Probably not. However, our recognition of these horrors has increased exponentially with the explosion of the World Wide Web onto the scene. In no other times have humans so strongly felt the shrinking of the world and the subsequent awareness of events that go on throughout this planet.
The Awful Connection
With our increased awareness, we have also discovered that there is a terribly frightening connection between cruelty toward animals as children and violent crimes toward humans later in life. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has this to say:
- Researchers, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies nationwide, have linked animal cruelty to domestic violence, child abuse, serial killings, and to the recent rash of killings by school-age children, according to Dr. Randall Lockwood, vice president of Training Initiatives for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
It is no secret to us in this age of enlightenment that the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and David Berkowitz all delighted in torturing animals before moving on to human prey. Sadly, many adult serial killers may have also suffered abuse as children.
- According to the Amarican Humane Association, in a study of 57 families being treated for incidents of child abuse, 88% also abused animals. In two-thirds of the cases, it was the abusive parent who had killed or injured the animals to control a child. In one-third, the children had abused the animals, using them as scapegoats for their anger.
In the case of the Columbine shootings, these boys did not even wait until adulthood. They graduated from animal abuse to killing their classmates as teenagers. The same pattern apparently existed among the killings attributed to Kip Kinkel, 15, of Oregon; Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, of Jonesboro Arkansas; and Luke Woodham, 16, of Pearl, Mississipi.
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