New Book Explores Link Between Animal Abuse And Human Cruelty

Sent: Sunday, July 10, 2005 9:44 PM
New Book Explores Link Between Animal Abuse And Human Cruelty!


From: Logan Herald Journal Utah


"......Ascione conducted interviews with 42 individuals who were imprisoned for domestic violence......half admitted to abusing animals in their home......found ......48 percent of rapists......30 percent of pedophiles admitted to acts of violence toward animals as children or teenagers."


Professor delves into children, abuse

By Emilie H. Wheeler

Book studies relationships between the young, their animals

Children who are cruel to animals may be more likely to commit criminal acts when adults, according to one Utah State University professor.

Frank R. Ascione, a professor and researcher in the department of
psychology, recently published "Children and Animals: Exploring the
Roots of Kindness and Cruelty," his fourth book on the topic of children
and animals.

The book is directed toward a lay audience, Ascione said, but includes enough research for the academic to find it interesting and useful.

Linking cruelty toward animals and later criminal behavior is only one
aspect of the book, however. Ascione also looked at animals used as abuse.

"Children are sometimes forced to watch animal abuse as part of emotional abuse that occurs at home," he said.

When that occurs, children either have more of a chance at abusing others when they grow older or becoming more strongly attached to their pet.

Ascione, who is also an adjunct professor in the department of family,
consumer and human development, has been researching animals and
children since the late '80s.

In 2001 he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the
International Association of Human-Animal Interaction and the
International Society of Anthrozoology.

Ascione's first two books were academically based, while the third was
aimed toward pet safety and similar agencies. The fourth is directed to
a more general audience.

"After doing more professionally oriented books, I realized (lay) people
needed to know about this issue," Ascione said.
He said he has conducted several studies involving animals and violence,
many used in his most recent book.

One study -- at the Utah State Prison -- has not been published, but
mirrors others conducted at other locations and by other researchers.

At the prison, Ascione conducted interviews with 42 individuals who were
imprisoned for domestic violence or another crime and admitted to
committing domestic violence.

Almost half admitted to abusing animals in their homes. His researched
found that 48 percent of rapists and 30 percent of pedophiles admitted
to acts of violence toward animals as children or teenagers.

But, Ascione said that percentage may be low because not all individuals
had animals in their home, meaning those who didn't may have abused had
they owned pets.

Additionally, there is no way to tell how many are being truthful, he
said. There are several issues at stake concerning animals and children.

For example, Ascione points out in his book that children who have been
maltreated may act out by hurting pets.

Adults at times use animals as a weapon toward children or other family

Also, animals can be mistreated to increase their aggressiveness.

But pets can often be a positive aspect of a child's life -- possibly
the only positive aspect, Ascione said.

"Sometimes, they are the only safe living thing to them," he said.

Ascione said this topic has been under study for years around the world,
with research similar to his own concerning abused women and their pets
occurring in both Canada and Australia. It has only been within the last
couple of decades that the issue has seen more systematic research
conducted, he said.

Ascione cites several other studies in his book conducted by other
researchers, including surveys of abused and non-abused children and
their caretakers and other studies involving women in domestic violence
situations and their pets.