Animal Studies Bibliography
Tapia, Fernando. 1971. Children Who Are Cruel to Animals. Child Psychiatry and Human Development 2(2): 70-77.
A review of the literature shows that there has been no study of cases of children's cruelty to animals [note: written in 1971]. This behavior is of interest because some work suggests that it is linked to adult violence. Symptoms often discussed with cruelty to animals include aggressiveness against other children or family, firesetting, excessive interest in sex, hoarding, enuresis, learning problems, bulimia, and imperviousness to pain. Clearly, animal cruelty is not an isolated problem in children. Causes of this behavior may include aggressive role models (parents, etc.) which the child imitates and disorders like schizophrenia. Children who are cruel to animals are almost always male and are generally young or preadolescent. In an analysis of 18 case histories (of children referred for animal cruelty as a primary problem, not incidental) from one clinic in Missouri supported these suggestions. All were boys, with the average age of 9-1/2 and half the cases between ages 8 and 10. More cases than usual came from very small towns or very rural areas, which may be because children from such distant areas would only be brought in if they were quite difficult to handle, and because these areas have more animals available for the children to act upon. The children were aggressive in general, showing other behaviors like bullying, fighting, firesetting, destructiveness, stealing, etc. IQ test showed the children were of normal intelligence. Causal factors included biological factors (Organic Brain Syndrome), environmental factors (aggressive parents, chaotic home--the most common factor--etc.), and combinations of the two.