A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 6, 2013

Violent Behavior-Heed the Early Warning Signs

courtesy spcaLA
Against a landscape of mounting gun violence, our nation is finally willing to look at the issue of gun safety in a comprehensive manner. To that end, universal background checks, bans on high capacity magazines and gun/gun owner data bases are options on the table designed to manage who can obtain a weapon and what to do with that knowledge. However, the root causes of violence, whether attributed to mental illness, bullying, random circumstances of nature and nurture must also be studied so that they may be mitigated. We would be remiss in our duties if we did not point out that there are glaring symptoms and tangible early warning signs of future violent behavior that can be detected now, with or without new legislation, and successfully treated with early intervention - sometimes as early as pre-school age.

 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.

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely true that animal cruelty is an early indication. Please be aware and report any incidences to your local animal control!