Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty

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Purdue University Press


Animal abuse has been an acknowledged problem for centuries, but only within the past few decades has scientific research provided evidence that the maltreatment of animals often overlaps with violence toward people. The variants of violence, including bullying or assaults in a schoolyard, child abuse in homes, violence between adult intimate partners, community hostility in our streets and neighborhoods, and even the context of war, are now the subject of concerted research efforts. Very often, the association of these forms of violence with cruelty to animals has been found. The perpetrators of such inhumane treatment are often children and adolescents. How common are these incidents? What motivates human maltreatment of animals? Are there cultural, societal, neighborhood, and family contexts that contribute to cruelty to animals? How early in a child's life does cruelty to animals emerge and are these incidents always a sign of future interpersonal violence? Are there ways of preventing such cruelty? Can we intervene effectively with children who already have a history of abuse and violence?Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty presents the current scientific and professional wisdom about the relation between the maltreatment of animals and interpersonal violence directed toward other human beings. However, the author, Frank R. Ascione, a noted expert in these areas, writes in a style and presents the findings in language that will be understandable to parents, teachers, counselors, clergy, animal welfare professionals, foster parents, mental health professionals, youth workers, law enforcement professionals, and any one else whose work or interest crosses into the lives of children and adolescents.