On SAGE Insight: Culture, Empathy, Gender, and Domestic Violence Predict Animal Abuse in Adolescents

Article title:  “It’s a Dog’s Life”: Culture, Empathy, Gender, and Domestic Violence Predict Animal Abuse in Adolescents— Implications for Societal Health

From Journal of Interpersonal Violence

This study investigated the ramifications of animal abuse in an environment wherein the national culture creates an ethos of the “social acceptability” of animal abuse in society. Two survey studies were conducted with adolescent participants, to investigate the role played by several factors in the prediction of animal abuse in this age group. What is most apparent from the article and previous research is that the risk factors, not surprisingly, for animal cruelty are not different from those for other aggressive and antisocial behaviors.

Because of decades of mismanagement of stray animal control programs, Romania has an excess of dogs living on the streets. With domestic violence prevalent throughout Romania, aggression unleashed on legally and socially status-diminished animals may serve as a displaced aggression enactment facility. Aggression is not only practiced against people and property but is likely learned through modeling by the abusers’ children, thus, continuing the cycle of violence across generations. In the chains of abuse, there are many links; remove one, and the chain is broken. By humanely removing the more visible “link” of legally endorsed aggressive catching and dog disposal processes, availability of the aggression enhancement facility is progressively removed, thereby breaking the cycle. The implications of these findings in a society where animal abuse is encouraged and enacted on a national scale are discussed.

Abstract

.Whereas the majority of previous research conducted on animal abuse has been in environments where animal abuse is rarely evidenced, the current study investigated the ramifications of animal abuse in an environment wherein the national culture creates an ethos of the “social acceptability” of animal abuse in society. Two survey studies were conducted with adolescent participants, to investigate the role played by several factors in the prediction of animal abuse in this age group. In Study 1, with samples from two different national cultures (101 from Germany and 169 from Romania; 143 boys/135 girls; age 13 to 17), animal abuse was negatively associated with affective empathy and national culture; more frequent animal abuse was found in Romania. Affective empathy fully mediated the association between gender and animal abuse. Specifically, girls were found to be higher in affective empathy; in turn, participants who were higher in affective empathy committed less animal abuse. Witnessing animal abuse was also predictive of engaging in animal abuse, but not independent of national culture. In Study 2, 15-year-old males (n = 21) and females (n = 39) took part, 29 from rural and 31 from urban locations in Romania. Rural adolescents were more likely to abuse animals and had higher exposure to domestic violence, which (in turn) was associated with more animal abuse. The implications of these findings in a society where animal abuse is encouraged and enacted on a national scale are discussed.

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Article details
Malcolm Plant, Paul van Schaik, Eleonora Gullone, and Clifton Flynn
“It’s a Dog’s Life”: Culture, Empathy, Gender, and Domestic Violence Predict Animal Abuse in Adolescents—Implications for Societal Health~J Interpers Violence 0886260516659655, first published on July 19, 2016 doi:10.1177/0886260516659655

 

     
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