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Physical discipline linked to animal abuse

Physical discipline of children linked to animal abuse

"Children who are physically disciplined are two and a half times more likely to abuse animals," Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today. Speaking by video to a Royal New Zealand SPCA conference on animal welfare education, he said studies show people who abuse animals are more likely to accept or inflict abuse elsewhere.

“One US study in 1999 looked at men and women who were involved in a childhood incident of animal abuse. It found they were much more likely to endorse the use of corporal punishment and to approve of a husband slapping his wife. Another study showed men who were physically disciplined as children were two and a half times more likely to have abused animals," Jim Anderton said.

“When a person or a family has been emotionally damaged through violence they are more likely to lack empathy, self-control and the tools they need to show respect for others," he said. " If they can't control themselves or take responsibility around animals, then they are likely to have no more self control, esteem or responsibility around people.”

Jim Anderton paid tribute to the SPCA and Child, Youth and Family for the ‘First Strike’ initiative, which improves information sharing between agencies when their investigations lead them to suspect abuse is occurring. "The idea behind ‘First Strike’ is that there is a link between animal and human violence."

He also complemented the SPCA on its ‘One of the Family’ campaign. "This was launched last year with Norm Hewitt in a starring role and I'm sure it will be very effective in building empathy among kids. It works by teaching children compassion for animals by showing the animals as one of their own family members."

A September 2001 US Department of Justice report, Animal Abuse and Youth Violence can be found at:


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