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Risk factors and correlates of hurting animals by children

By Kathleen Ann Rooney

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This dissertation is a secondary analysis of a preexisting dataset, the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN), Assessments 0-4 produced by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) located in the Family Development Center at Cornell University (2001). This is a large scale dataset employing five sites across the United States. Three sites are used: the Northwest, South and Southwest as they contain the largest numbers exhibiting the behavior of interest, hurting animals by children. These sites have sample sizes of 261, 221 and 327 children, respectively. The samples were chosen for varying levels of risk for child abuse and neglect; data collection began in 1991 and is ongoing. The children were born between 1989 and 1996. The number of children who hurt animals at each site was as follows: 16 (South Site), 25 (Northwest Site) and 36 (Southwest Site). Hypotheses were that more males than females would hurt animals; females who hurt animals would show more internalizing problems than males who hurt animals; males who hurt animals would show more externalizing problems than females who hurt animals and children who hurt animals would experience higher rates of physical abuse than children who have not hurt animals. An additional hypothesis was that hurting animals would correlate with aggressive and delinquent behaviors and attention problems as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL, Achenbach, 1991). Only one hypothesis was fully supported: aggression, delinquent behavior and attention problems all correlate with higher rates of these behaviors exhibited by children who hurt animals. Aggression, in particular, was associated with the behavior of hurting animals. Physical abuse was not correlated with hurting animals and only one site (the Southwest) showed a statistically significant difference between males and females for this behavior with males more likely to do so. Other findings of interest show correlations between hurting animals and aspects of parenting, day care utilization and foster care placement at at least one site.

Date 2009
Pages 236
Publisher Boston College
Department School of Social Work
Degree PhD
Language English
University Boston College
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Animal abuse
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals in culture
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Day Care
  7. Fostering
  8. Hurting animals
  9. Pet ownership
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. preschools
  12. Psychiatry and psychology
  13. Social Work