It is so crucial that children develop empathy for themselves, for others and for animals. I seriously believe that having pets and learning how to treat them is essential to a child's emotional development. Numerous studies show that how a children and adults treat animals is a predictor of how they will treat others.
This research began many years ago when a researcher documented and studied the link between animal abuse and child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. Realize that many para-professionals in the field of each of these areas already knew that there was such a link only lacked the ability to name it for what is was as they had seen the pattern many times, police and animal control investigators, domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse investigators saw the signs and symptoms repeatedly.
It is sad that the Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals was first initiated in the mid 1860s and even though they then saw signs of child abuse it took our county another 100 years to begin advocacy for child abuse prevention in the mid 1960s. Later Dr. Frank Ascione from Utah State University would spend his entire research career exploring and bringing credibility to the link between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other human cruelty. This research is so extensively documented that cruelty towards animals has become a predictor upon which clinicians can base their diagnosis.
What I would like to provide in this post is the research for parents and caregivers to be able to read credible information about this "link" and how vital it is that we provide nurturing environments for children in which we model empathy and teach empathy skills to our children. Nothing can break a parents heart more than to have a child grow up and commit these acts of violence against others even if they themselves would never do so. Help is available and there is no need to wait or any reason not to provide the prevention so essential to a child's emotional development.
1. Links to Dr. Frank Asciones work includes articles and books.
Books on Amazon.
Developing Nurturing Parenting and Empathy Skills
If you know of a child or have seen symptoms of animal cruelty in your own child please do not over react. DO reach out and seek assistance on how to address the issue and don't shame yourself or the child as shame is not a motivator for change.
Be aware in allowing your child to play with children who show signs of cruelty to animals and don't be afraid to address the issue with their caregiver offering support and educational tools in addressing the issues.
Adults and children who show these signs are not people you want to leave your child alone with if for no other reason that it is bad role modeling and nothing you want your child exposed.
Watch for the next posting on what parents/caregivers can do to help your child respond appropriately to child predators.
Nurturing a Child's Soul by Jo (Google Affiliate Ad)