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Recurrent Childhood Animal Cruelty: Is There a Relationship to Adult Recurrent Interpersonal Violence?

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 34 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2009 Pages: 248-257
Christopher Hensley; Suzanne E. Tallichet; Erik L. Dutkiewicz
Date Published
June 2009
10 pages
In replicating Tallichet and Hensley's (2004) study of whether there is an association between childhood cruelty to animals and later violence toward humans, this study surveyed 180 inmates at a medium-security and maximum-security prison in a Southern State that mirrored the larger inmate population of the State.
The study found that recurrent acts of animal cruelty - regardless of race, education, or geographic location of one's formative years - emerged as a possible "red flag" for later recurrent aggression against humans. Inmates who had committed more acts of childhood animal cruelty were more likely to have engaged in repeated act of interpersonal violence as adults. Inmates were asked a series of questions about their history of interpersonal violence, which included self-reports of murder or attempted murder, rape or attempted rape, aggravated or simple assault, and robbery. They were also asked how many times they had committed each of these offenses. The inmates were also asked how many times they had ever hurt or killed animals other than in hunting. All of the acts of childhood animal cruelty reported occurred prior to the first reported act of interpersonal violence. Demographic characteristics (race, educational level, and geographic location of formative years) were recorded for each inmate. 3 tables and 22 references