Animal Cruelty by Children and Adolescents

Jane Bourne

Animal abuse is referred to as the maltreatment of animals by humans. It can come in either of two forms. One is by causing the animals pain with certain objects or overpowering smaller animals, which is the most common form of animal abuse. The other form of animal abuse is by ignoring them.

As surprising as it is, children rank as some of the highest abusers of animals. Children as young as 3 years old have reportedly caused pain to smaller animals in one way or another. Children are new to the world and their surroundings. Sometimes they try to experiment with things they are not sure about, leading to the cruelty on animals by kids. Older children around the ages of 6 to 12, who understand it's not right to hurt animals and still do, might need therapy, even at their young age.

Why Animals Could be Victims of Abuse by Children and Adolescents

There are certain reasons that could induce a child or an adolescent to maltreat animals. Some of these reasons are expressed below:

1. Mirroring the actions of parents

When animal abuse happens as a result of this reason, then the fault lies solely on the parents of the child. Because of the several fights, they witness between you and your partner, they might copy those acts on smaller animals around him/her, which effectively turns your child into one who hurts animals.

2. Bullying

A key factor in animal abuse by children and adolescents is a psychological imbalance. When your child experiences bullying, overpowering by peers or older people, or even sexual abuse, he/she tends to develop psychological problems. Imagine a case where an older, stronger kid bullies your child. Your child, who is the victim of the abuse, realizing that he/she might not be able to revenge on the older kid, might decide to take out his/her anger on the weakest recipient; the pet. The feeling of regaining power could take over your child, and give the psyche to carry on with the act of animal abuse.

3. Bestiality

Bestiality refers to mating or activities of a sexual nature between a human and an animal. There needs not to be a form of penetration before referring to it as bestiality. It is classified as a form of animal abuse because an animal cannot give consent to have sex with a human. Bestiality as a form of animal abuse is practiced by adolescents, not children, in this case. Bestiality is usually exhibited by adolescents who have previously been sexually abused in one form or the other. The act could also be motivated by adolescents who are sexually inadequate, emotionally immature, experience difficulty in getting attached to other humans emotionally, and criticism-resistant adolescents.

4. Child exploration

In the case of a small child abusing or being cruel to animals, it could simply be out of innocence. Kids that exhibit this character are usually under the age of 3. Children do not really have an understanding of the way the world works and sometimes might even try out stuff that could hurt themselves. Seeing a puppy or kitten, your child might decide to play with the animal, not really understanding that it is causing the animal discomfort or pain.

5. Fear of the animal

People hate what they fear or do not understand. Before something is hated, it is first feared. This could also apply to children or adolescents who are afraid of a particular animal and do stuff to hurt it. Children and adolescents hate the feeling of being vulnerable and when an animal threatens their confidence, they could become hateful to that creature, and as a result, become a child that hurts animals.

6. Preparation to hurt other people

Some children or adolescents could practically take out their anger on an animal and because the animal is the best representation of a living thing to hurt; they practice hurting the animal in order to get violent with another person or people. Essentially, when this kind of animal abuse is practiced, your child definitely needs professional help.

7. Peer pressure

This is prevalent in adolescents. One of the factors associated with becoming a teenager is the development of ego. In order to 'belong' or seem cool, an adolescent might be pressured into abusing an animal simply because it's the new trend or because his/her peers are doing so. It has been revealed that animal abuse caused by peer pressure is prevalent in areas where animal husbandry is practiced.

How to Stop Animal Abuse by Children and Adolescents

Animal abuse in any form that is exhibited by either children or adolescents is meant to be curbed. Methods to put an end to animal cruelty are outlined below.

  • Educating the child

After feeding and taking care of a child, the most important quality of a parent is to guide a child in the right way. Sometimes adolescents could be misguided and may need proper supervision by parents. If the cause of animal abuse by the adolescent is a result of the child observing violence between you and your partner, then the acts of violence will need to be stopped. If the cause of animal abuse by the adolescent is a result of you or your partner meting out corporal punishment on your child, then the child abuse will need to be stopped.

Communication is essential. The reason as to why your child acted that way needs to be discovered and stopped effectively. Trying to impart empathy goes a long way in helping your child feel kindness toward animals.

  • Seeking professional help

If the cause of animal abuse is quite serious like bestiality or hurting the animal to prepare to hurt other people, then the child will need professional advice from a therapist or child behavior specialist, who is adequately equipped to deal with such a situation. Child behavior specialists particularly identify emotional or mental problems with children and adolescents. You, as a parent, might feel if you seek professional help with your kids; it indicates failure as a parent and therefore, you hesitate in doing so. You might also have the belief that seeking professional help translates to your child as being 'crazy'. This is not so. Child behavior specialists help with the mental or emotional problem before it escalates and your adolescent child becomes worse as hurting animals is a symptom of a psychological disorder.

Wrapping It Up

Children or adolescents could be cruel to animals because of reasons stemming from ignorance, exploration, retribution or even emotional problems. This article outlines several ways a child or adolescent could practice animal abuse. However, the steps to effectively end animal cruelty by children are outlined.