Childhood animal cruelty methods and their link to adult interpersonal violence

J Interpers Violence. 2011 Jul;26(11):2211-27. doi: 10.1177/0886260510383038. Epub 2011 Jan 30.


Recent research has begun to establish a relationship between childhood acts of animal cruelty and later violence against humans. However, few studies have focused on the influence of animal cruelty methods on later interpersonal violence. In a replication of a study by Hensley and Tallichet (2009) and based on a sample of 180 inmates at medium- and maximum-security prisons in a Southern state, the present study examines the relationship between several retrospectively identified animal cruelty methods (drowned, hit, shot, kicked, choked, burned, and sex) and interpersonal violence committed against humans. Four out of 5 inmates reported hitting animals. Over one third of the sample chose to shoot or kick animals, while 1 in 5 had sex with them. Less then one fifth of the sample drowned or choked animals, while less than one sixth of the inmates burned animals. Regression analyses revealed that the age at which offenders began committing animal cruelty and having sex with animals were predictive of adult interpersonal violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States