Cruelty is the dark side of human-animal interactions.
Did you know that there is no national accounting of cruelty to animals? We have uniform accounting, each year, of crimes against humans—but not so for animal abuse and other attacks against animals. The U.S. Humane Society (HSUS) reports:
“The shocking number of cruelty cases reported daily in the media is only the tip of the iceberg. Most cases are never reported, and most animal suffering goes unrecognized and unabated. Although there is no national reporting system for animal abuse, media reports suggest that it is common in rural and urban areas. Cruelty and neglect can also cross socio-economic boundaries.”
Despite the lack of national reporting, the HSUS has collected and summarizes a lot of data from media reports. And, if these reports move you to do something, HSUS provides a Take Action page as well. Of course, most of us are deeply troubled when we hear of such abuse.
And, my question today may add to your concern: Can cruelty to animals predict cruelty to humans?
Researchers are sure there’s a link, as Marc Bekoff summarizes in Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, the book we’re consulting this week. He focuses on the work of Australian psychologist Eleonora Gullone, from her book Animal Cruelty, Antisocial Behaviour, and Aggression: More than a Link. She notes that “mild and isolated forms of animal cruelty may be part of normal exploratory developmental behaviour” in children. But “persistent or recurrent cruelty to animals” is associated with, precedes, and predicts later anti-social behavior, aggression, and violence toward humans.
Once again, the HSUS has helpful information, including various connections between animal and human cruelty. Here are some of them:
- Animal abuse can reveal people who are also engaged in criminal activities, as well as reveal family violence.
- Cruelty to animals can be a “warning sign for at-risk youth.”
- One of the predictors of domestic partner abuse is cruelty to companion animals.
- A history of animal abuse in childhood may translate into tolerance of interpersonal violence in adulthood.
Have you observed the cruel side of human-animal interactions?
Have you seen a link between cruelty to animals and to humans?