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Help Them While They're Young

Fighting juvenile animal cruelty in Phoenix

A 9-year old boy appears in family court, accused of dousing a cat with gasoline and setting her on fire. Already in foster care, he’s too young to incarcerate, but he’s inflicted pain and suffering on a sentient being. What are the judge’s options?

In most parts of the country, very few. A judge may refer the child for counseling, but if no other criminal charges are pending, the child is usually released to the custody of his family or guardians—and if they don’t seek counseling for him, he’s unlikely to get it.

Childhood animal cruelty is troublesome. Social workers and psychologists recognize it’s a likely indication of later violence. Prominent researchers like Frank Ascione, Randall Lockwood, and Phil Arkow have found a strong link between animal abuse and human violence. Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Patrick Sherrill all had a history of animal abuse. Is it possible their murderous rampages could have been averted if they’d received treatment when they were younger?

 Read the full article.

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