The following is a guest post by
animal welfare reporter, activist, and domestic violence counselor Deborah Kay
Children who witness cruelty to animals experience psychological and
emotional damage that compromises their empathy development because they become
desensitized to feelings of kindness, hurt, pain, and suffering in themselves
and other living beings. Constant exposure to animal abuse can cause children
to engage in abusive reactive behaviors and posttraumatic reenactments perpetrated
against animals or younger siblings.
who abuse animals are often displaying signs that they are victims of physical,
mental, or sexual abuse. As a child's anger escalates as a
result of the continued abuse, he or she may ultimately lash out against
humans. When a child matures and becomes a parent, the person's anger is often
vented upon his or her own children, continuing the cycle of violence.
Juveniles who commit animal abuse have characteristics similar
to those of individuals who set fires and vandalize with graffiti, as these
crimes are done covertly when no one is looking. Adults and authorities need to
understand these early warning signs and behaviors in order to identify
individuals who are at risk for interpersonal violence.
abuse's connection to child abuse and domestic violence should be considered
more seriously by judges, attorneys, and social workers. It is my opinion that
the evidence of prior acts of violence toward members of a family, whether they
be animals, children, or spouses, should be admissible not only in civil trials
determining child custody or adoption but also in criminal trials attempting to
prove motive, intent, or lack of accident by the abuser.
If you witness animal abuse in your home or neighborhood or
know someone who abuses animals, contact your local police department
immediately. If we don't speak up for animals, who will?
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.