Deliberate abuse of a pet is a form of family violence and identification and intervention leads to protecting both people and animals. There is a plethora of research that shows a definitive link between animal abuse and other forms of violence. Young people who witness or commit acts of cruelty to animals may disclose these actions at school – through conversations, artwork or writing. It’s important that these are addressed, for the welfare of the animal and because animal abuse often occurs in conjunction with other forms of family violence.
What teachers need to know:
- Families in which pets are abused or neglected have a higher occurrence of child abuse or neglect.
- Children who abuse animals are often involved in bullying, vandalism, and more serious crimes.
- Children who commit serious acts of cruelty to animals are 7 to 8 times more likely to have been sexually abused.
- In an Alberta study (2012) of animal abuse in domestic violence situations, 85% of domestic violence victims reported that their children witnessed the threat or harm to the animal. In half of those cases, it was the child’s own pet.
- Family pets are often targets in domestic violence, and threats of violence toward a pet are often used as a means of control by an abusive family member.
We can help:
Our webpage Animal Abuse: What you should know has advice for teachers including what to do if animal abuse is disclosed by students.
The Alberta SPCA has a publication on The Cruelty Connection with information specific to professionals including teachers, law enforcement, and service providers.
Kindness as the antidote:
Humane education promotes compassion for animals, people and the environment. Learning that people have a responsibility to respect and care about – and for – animals, each other and the earth we share, helps to foster humane attitudes. This website has plenty of resources to help incorporate humane education into the classroom. Our Kindness Map Activities page, provides teachers an array of different activities to promote humane attitudes and have their students recognized.