Human and animal health: strengthening the link
Child and animal abuse are linked
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EditorCoombes rightly considers the duties of doctors and vets in situations where their patients are in danger of mistreatment.1 There is increasing evidence to link animal and child abuse, and vice versa (www.americanhumane.org). DeViney et al showed that 88% of pets were abused where child abuse and neglect were present.2 Among women seeking refuge from domestic violence in a safe house, 71% of those with pets reported that their partners had been violent to their pet.3
Increasing collaboration between the NSPCA and the RSPCA is helping government policy to formulate improved links between the two reporting schemes. In several local authorities vets will contact the appropriate children and families social services department to notify it of animal abuse because of the strength of the link. Wider uptake would do much to protect both sets of innocents.
M E Jan Wise, consultant psychiatrist
Competing interests: None declared.
- Coombes R. Do vets and doctors face similar ethical challenges? BMJ 2005;331: 1227. (26 November.)
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- DeViney E, Dickert J, Lockwood R. The care of pets within child abusing families. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems 1998;4: 321-9.
- Ascione FR. The nature and status of research on the link between animal cruelty and child abuse. Protecting Children 1997;13: 12-4.