“Anyone who is accustomed to despise the life of any living being is in danger of disregarding human life also.” Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize 1952.
Today we live constantly in an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty. Violence is expressed in many ways. Every day we are shaken by tragic events that concern us.
Animal abuse is, in turn, a factor that predisposes to social violence and at the same time, a consequence of it. It is part of the cascade of violence that is reaching us all as individuals and as a society.
Violence is “an intentional act that may be unique or recurrent, cyclical, directed to dominate, control, attack or injure others. It is almost always exercised by persons of higher rank, ie, those with power in a relationship, but also may be exercised on objects, animals or against oneself. “
Violence inhibits the development of people and can cause irreversible damage and it takes different forms of expression that can range from verbal abuse to homicide.
Cruelty is “an emotional response of indifference or taking pleasure in the suffering and pain of others, or action that may cause unnecessary suffering has been considered a psychological disorder. The cruelty of children, including animals, is a clinical sign related to antisocial and behavioral disorders. “
In families in which violence occurs, it is more often directed towards the most deprived, including elders, women, children and pets. The animal abuse is tolerated by those who observe it, minimizing its causes and effects, and parents, teachers and communities that do not give importance to animal abuse are incubating a time bomb.
It should be emphasized that the detection, prevention and treatment of violence against animals is an act of humanity itself. Animals are creatures found in relation to humans, at a level of inferiority in the evolutionary scale that makes us responsible for their welfare, as having supremacy carries with it an obligation, a responsibility that is to fulfill as guardian of the lower species in intellectual terms. If you really want to combat violence, a part of our struggle is also to eradicate the abuse of other living beings.
The second point worth noting is that this violence toward animals can serve as a detector and alert to domestic violence, as the animal cruelty and human violence have a direct relationship. We know that children who abuse their pets can witness acts of cruelty against humans or themselves be abused by someone older and more powerful.
These children, both abused and abusers, they are learning and internalizing the violence perpetuated themselves to be older and to have their own families. This abuse may be the only visible sign of a family in which there is abuse, and this can help find the person responsible for the violence in the family.
A person who abuses an animal does not feel empathy for other living beings and are at higher risk of inflicting violence on others. The American Psychiatric Association considers it one of the diagnoses to determine behavioral disorders. If a child talks about the mistreatment of his pet he could be telling us also of his own suffering.
Threatening to hurt the pet can be a form of psychological violence used against children to be “good behavior” or as a way to keep secret any abuse to which they are undergoing. According to experts, star or observe acts of cruelty could be as traumatic as being a victim of physical abuse and, therefore, it is highly likely that the child has a high risk of becoming an abusive parent, who in turn can produce another generation of violent children.
Some of the features that may occur in children and young people who abuse animals are feeling helpless and under the control of others by using animals as victims to prove their authority and power, using animals as scapegoats for anger they feel toward other authority figures who abuse; are discriminated against in any way; receive severe punishment, have low self-esteem, feel great distrust of society, have poor grades and are socially isolated.
Some family background characteristics of those who abuse or mistreat animals are adults who were sexually abused in childhood, adolescents who have a relationship with their parents, family and colleagues more negatively than non abused (Miller and Knutson, 1997). Animal abuse is more prevalent in households where there are other forms of violence, alcohol or drug abuse.
Cruelty causes violence, a U.S. study found that not all animal abusers become mass murderers, but all serial murderers have a history of animal abuse (Gena Icazbalceta). But with proper guidance from their parents will learn to understand that animals are sensitive to pain.
The education given to children helps them to establish their values and behavior patterns.
They acquire their moral and ethical principles in imitation of the models they have around them.
Considering the above, we can only conclude that there is an urgent need of integrated efforts of parents, teachers, social workers, veterinarians, pediatricians, animal protection associations and psychologists to prevent animal abuse and subsequent transformation in social violence.