According to the FBI, the three behaviors most credited as precursors to committing violent acts are pyromania, enuresis (excessive bed-wetting) and animal cruelty. spcaLA is primarily focused on the third behavior. Deriving pleasure from causing an animal pain can be seen even in very young children. As children are not born violent, (true sociopaths notwithstanding) such behavior towards an animal is abnormal and indicative of a problem in the home that is either directed at or witnessed by the child. If not treated, and the cause not explored, that person will become desensitized to suffering and may continue to use the infliction of pain on other living things as a way to control his or her surroundings.
spcaLA (not affiliated with any other spca as there is no national/umbrella spca) has a series of core programs designed to intervene and prevent animal abuse as well as to deter violence towards people. They comprise a court mandated alternative sentencing course for juvenile offenders convicted of bullying, animal abuse or other violent crimes, an internationally acclaimed "at risk" youth program where schools target certain students to participate in the program, and one assisting victims of domestic violence and their pets where immediate help is mandated. The point is that the earlier the warning signs are recognized, the greater the chances of successful intervention, behavior modification and the abatement of future violent behavior.
The secret to the cure is for teachers, parents, social workers, and others in contact with our youth to know and recognize the symptoms. If you see animal cruelty, report it and seek help.
I can’t tell you how often I am told by a parent “It’s just a dog. You should be happy it’s not a person.”
Next time it will be.