ChapterPDF Available

Refining the Link Between Animal Abuse and Subsequent Violence

Authors:
... Children, particularly when acting as the solo perpetrator of harm to animals, may become better at concealing abusive acts as they grow older (McEwen et al. 2014). In fact, studies that explore animal cruelty histories in childhood among perpetrators of mass murder find they often committed these acts toward animals from other homes or neighborhoods, rather than against their own animal companion (Levin and Arluke 2009). ...
... Studies have indicated warning signs in the manner acts of animal cruelty are perpetrated among serial killers, mass murderers, and other extremely violent criminals (Arluke et al. 2018). In many cases, the specific manner of harming animals perpetrated in youth mirrored the manner the killer used to later murder humans (Levin and Arluke 2009). These acts of animal cruelty perpetrated by serial killers and mass murderers are more commonly committed through personal contact such as with one's own hands and are often against dogs or cats (Arluke et al. 2018;Levin and Arluke 2009). ...
... In many cases, the specific manner of harming animals perpetrated in youth mirrored the manner the killer used to later murder humans (Levin and Arluke 2009). These acts of animal cruelty perpetrated by serial killers and mass murderers are more commonly committed through personal contact such as with one's own hands and are often against dogs or cats (Arluke et al. 2018;Levin and Arluke 2009). Torture may also be a common component of these abusive acts, particularly among serial killers (Levin and Arluke 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
The well-being of children and non-human animals (subsequently referred to as animals) is often intertwined. Communities are unlikely to be able to best protect humans from abuse and harm unless they are working to ensure the safety of animals who reside there as well. This study is the first to utilize U.S. animal control report data and narratives to explore how children are involved in cases of animal cruelty. Children engage in abusive acts toward animals, alone, or along with peers and/or adults. Children were found to inflict abuse most often with their hands or feet as opposed to with a weapon or other object. A total of 85% of animal cruelty perpetrated by children was toward a dog or cat. Key differences between how children are involved in acts of cruelty to companion animals compared with acts involving wild animals are described and warrant further study. The cases of animal abuse or neglect reported by children were among the most severe in the study, and often involved an adult perpetrator known to the child. Neighbors rarely report child abuse or intimate partner violence in the United States, but 89% of the animal cruelty cases involving children in this study were reported by a neighbor or passerby. Although children involved in reports as a perpetrator or reporter were most often in early adolescence, children involved in cross-reports between child welfare and animal control were often under the age of 5. Improved cross-reporting and stronger partnerships between human and animal welfare agencies may provide opportunity for earlier intervention and is likely to better many human and animal lives.
... To shed light on the animal abuse connection to mass shootings, fundamental questions need to be examined, including how common is animal abuse in the histories of both adolescent 1 It is difficult to compare rates of animal abuse among criminals with rates in the general population, because researchers have used such different definitions and methods of data collection in their attempts to measure animal abuse. For example, reported rates of animal abuse among children and adolescents in the United States vary from 10% to 28%, and include acts of various levels of severity (Lea, 2007;Levin & Arluke, 2009;Miller & Knutson, 1997;Offord, Boyle, & Racine, 1991). ...
... As noted earlier, somewhat higher proportions of young and White mass public shooters had a history of animal abuse, but even these proportions were relatively low compared with other forms of multiple homicide. For example, Levin and Arluke's (2009) study found that nearly 90% of their sample of sadistic serial killers had abused animals. ...
... Additionally, in the majority of cases, the animal abuse was committed at close range and entailed abuse of cats and dogs, which is also consistent with prior studies of serial killers (Levin & Arluke, 2009) and school shooters (Arluke & Madfis, 2014), which similarly found that this particular type of animal abuse was most closely associated with serious human violence. This prior research also suggests that that animal abuse directed against anthropomorphized species (dogs and cats) in an up-close manner may be a far better predictor of future human violence than other types of animal cruelty (Arluke & Madfis, 2014;Levin & Arluke, 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers have extensively studied the tendency of certain violent criminals to hurt or torture animals, primarily focusing on domestic abusers and serial killers. However, little is known about the extent or nature of prior animal abuse among active shooters and public mass shooters. Public mass and active shooters essentially represent a single offender type: they are people who commit rampage attacks in public places and attempt to harm multiple victims beyond a single target. The only difference is that “mass” shootings are traditionally defined as cases resulting in the death of four or more victims, while “active” shootings have no minimum threshold. This study aimed to identify all publicly reported cases of active and mass shooters who engaged in animal cruelty, describe the nature of their violence toward animals and humans, and examine how they differ from other perpetrators without this history. Overall, this study found 20 cases of offenders with a publicly reported history of animal abuse. Comparisons between offenders with and without this history indicated that animal‐abusing offenders were more likely to be young and White, less likely to die at the crime scene, and more likely to kill and wound a large number of victims. While this finding supports the idea that animal abuse might be a warning sign for a small but deadly minority of mostly youthful offenders, it is likely not a robust signal of future shooters in general because animal abuse is rarely reported in this population of offenders at large.
... Despite the call to conceptually clarify cruelty, only one study has done so. According to Levin and Arluke's (2009) study of sadistic serial killers, a certain type of animal cruelty likely foreshadows this kind of violence. The authors found that torturing animals in an up-close and personal way, especially animals like dogs and cats that have been heavily anthropomorphized in our culture, is a more apt red flag of this form of extreme violence than is everyday animal abuse. ...
... Moreover, Verlinden et al. (2000) did not examine the nature of abuse in these cases, raising the problem that teachers, parents, and school administrators might use reports of any kind of animal cruelty as a potential warning sign of a school massacre. What distinguishes, then, the present study from Verlinden and her colleagues' research is that we not only investigated the frequency of animal abuse but also its nature when it purportedly occurred, building on Levin and Arluke's (2009) study that sought to reduce the false positive problem in using animal abuse as a warning sign of extreme violence. ...
... In addition to recording whether individual school shooters allegedly abused animals, we also noted the features of this abuse when details were given. More specifically, following Levin and Arluke (2009), we noted (a) the closeness of abusers to their victims in terms of species (i.e., "higher" vs. "lower" animals), (b) personal familiarity 12 Homicide Studies 18(1) (i.e., "family/neighbor pet" vs. "stray or wild animal"), and (c) the methods of abuse, whether "up close" (i.e., direct contact with victims, such as beating) or "remote" (i.e., shooting). ...
Article
Full-text available
Although animal cruelty is often described as a warning sign of future human violence, particularly in the prediction of multiple homicides, prior studies reveal mixed support for this notion and lack conceptual clarity in the measurement of such cruelty. This study investigates the quantity and quality of cruelty present in a sample of 23 perpetrators of school massacres from 1988 to 2012. Findings indicate that 43% of the perpetrators commit animal cruelty before schoolyard massacres and that the cruelty is usually directed against anthropomorphized species (dogs and cats) in an up-close manner. The implications of these findings for reducing false positive cases of cruelty are discussed.
... Despite the call to conceptually clarify cruelty, only one study has done so. According to Levin and Arluke's (2009) study of sadistic serial killers, a certain type of animal cruelty likely foreshadows this kind of violence. The authors found that torturing animals in an up-close and personal way, especially animals like dogs and cats that have been heavily anthropomorphized in our culture, is a more apt red flag of this form of extreme violence than is everyday animal abuse. ...
... Moreover, Verlinden et al. (2000) did not examine the nature of abuse in these cases, raising the problem that teachers, parents, and school administrators might use reports of any kind of animal cruelty as a potential warning sign of a school massacre. What distinguishes, then, the present study from Verlinden and her colleagues' research is that we not only investigated the frequency of animal abuse but also its nature when it purportedly occurred, building on Levin and Arluke's (2009) study that sought to reduce the false positive problem in using animal abuse as a warning sign of extreme violence. ...
... In addition to recording whether individual school shooters allegedly abused animals, we also noted the features of this abuse when details were given. More specifically, following Levin and Arluke (2009), we noted (a) the closeness of abusers to their victims in terms of species (i.e., "higher" vs. "lower" animals), (b) personal familiarity (i.e., "family/neighbor pet" vs. "stray or wild animal"), and (c) the methods of abuse, whether "up close" (i.e., direct contact with victims, such as beating) or "remote" (i.e., shooting). ...
Article
Full-text available
Although animal cruelty is often described as a warning sign of future human violence, particularly in the prediction of multiple homicides, prior studies reveal mixed support for this notion and lack conceptual clarity in the measurement of such cruelty. This study investigates the quantity and quality of cruelty present in a sample of 23 perpetrators of school massacres from 1988 to 2012. Findings indicate that 43% of the perpetrators commit animal cruelty before schoolyard massacres and that the cruelty is usually directed against anthropomorphized species (dogs and cats) in an up-close manner. The implications of these findings for reducing false positive cases of cruelty are discussed.
... For example, according to MacDonald (1961MacDonald ( , 1963, a child's proneness to delinquency and violence could be predicted by a triad of characteristics comprising enuresis, fire setting, and cruelty to animals (see also Hellman & Blackman, 1966). While this triad was criticized years later in subsequent studies (Felthous & Kellert, 1986;Hannah & Alleyne, 2020;Slavkin, 2001), the general idea remained that animal abuse was a marker of problem behaviors (Arluke, 2006;Gullone, 2012;Levin & Arluke, 2009), and this view was later supported by many other studies. For example, a comparison study of 141 children with at least one symptom of conduct disorder with a community sample of 36 children showed that 28% of the children belonging to the first group committed animal abuse, whereas only 3% did in the community sample (Luk et al., 1999). ...
Article
Full-text available
Animal abuse is considered a significant marker of violence towards humans, and understanding its determinants is important. In this first large-scale survey on adolescent animal abuse carried out in France, we introduced and tested the relative explanatory power of a new variable potentially involved in animal abuse: speciesism, defined as the belief that humans are intrinsically more valuable than individuals of other species. In a school sample composed of 12,344 participants aged 13-18, we observed that 7.3% of participants admitted having perpetrated animal abuse. Consistent with existing studies, cats and dogs were the animals most often abused. Animal abuse was a solitary behavior approximately half of the time, and in 25% of instances it involved only another person. A multivariate logistic regression revealed that animal abuse was more frequent among males, and that it occured more often among adolescents with less positive family climate, lower support from friends, lower attachment to school, and with higher anxio-depressive symptomatology. As implied by the generalized deviance hypothesis, animal abuse was related to more deviant behavior like drunkenness and bullying. Moreover, this study showed for the first time that animal abuse was higher among adolescents who endorsed speciesist attitudes. These results suggest that beyond psychopathological factors, normative beliefs regarding the value of animals and their human use may also be involved in animal mistreatment.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.