The recent incidents of kitten torture are alarming for several reasons according to the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
Associate Professor Eleonora Gullone, Chairperson of the APS Interest Group Psychologists for the Promotion of Animal Welfare, says psychological research has consistently shown a link between cruelty to animals and violent behaviour toward humans as well as criminal behaviour generally.
"Animal abuse is a sign of compromised empathy in adults and youth alike. However, when the animal abuse is being perpetrated by children or adolescents, we need to be even more alarmed," says Gullone.
"To derive joy from observing the slow suffering of any living being, but particularly that of such a harmless and innocent creature as a kitten is particularly disturbing and suggests significant psychological disturbance," says Gullone.
Research has shown that many youth who are abusive toward animals have in some way been exposed to abuse or violence themselves. This may be through witnessing another member of their family being abused or through being direct victim of abuse themselves.
It is important then to identify those who have been involved in the recent incidents of kitten torture so that efforts can be made to ensure that their violent behaviours do not recur or escalate.
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For more information:
Australian Psychological Society
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0412 683 068