Escrito por The Olive Press. Publicado en News in English.

cruelty to animals In spite of the terrible brutality reflected by the acts of cruelty against animals, they do not occupy the front pages of any newspaper or appear too shocking to the public, however, they have an ultimate meaning that should interest us as a society. Those who abuse animals, experts say, are up to five times more likely to commit violent crimes against persons. 

A British teenager who gets to his brother's hamster in the microwave, a group of boys who crucified a cat in Valencia and another who brutally murdered a donkey in Extremadura , three Mexicans who tortured a dog and displaying videos on the Web...
Animals skinned, burned, impaled, mutilated, beaten ...etc.It is common to read or hear phrases like "childish behaviour'' when dealing with these events. It is true that sometimes, in a game, especially in groups, some commit minor acts that are regrettable but, according to psychiatrists and criminologists, regarding other such acts "this is a warning sign " and people do not listen, "this is not a harmless outlet in a healthy individual", in the words of Allen Brantley, supervisor and FBI Special Agent, one of the world's leading experts in the field. "Play that kills animals that we do not feel compassion for, such as mussels, is quite normal, but some children do so repeatedly, deriving pleasure, and that's a problem", explains Francisco Montañés, Chief of Psychiatry at the Alcorcón Hospital Foundation, to

Anti-Social Behaviour.

In countries like the U.S., interest in such acts is increasing. Not only because of increased awareness towards animals but by the ever-increasing evidence of the relationship between acts of animal cruelty and other crimes ranging from drug use to the serial murders. In the 80s, Alan Felthous, an expert in forensic psychiatry, conducted several studies consistently showing that behind the attacks on people was, in many cases, a history of animal abuse. Their work was carried out with men, especially violent inmates in U.S. prisons and served to confirm their study. After that, others have analyzed this issue. In 2002, the magazine Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law made public a study in which the repeated acts of cruelty to animals in childhood were linked with the development of an Antisocial Personality Disorder, the presence of antisocial traits and substance abuse. " Approximately half of the anti-social individuals engage sadistic behaviour and if they do before they are 10 years old the prognosis is worse," affirms Francisco Montañés. That the child moves from one isolated act of violence against an animal to commit other crimes, "is an escalation", this expert added. "If you repeat the act and do so against an increasing size of animal, if you derive pleasure from this .. The possibilities are greater of this behaviour being transferred to abuse against people."Frank Ascione, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah ( USA) and a recognized expert, wrote in the Bulletin of Juvenile Justice in 2001: "The abuse of animals and interpersonal violence share common characteristics : both types of victims are living creatures, have the ability to experience pain and could die from injuries inflicted ." An opportunity to intervene. The awareness and sensitivity in Spain to this problem is low. "We are near the end of queue", says Núria Querol i Viñas, a family physician from the University Hospital Mutua de Terrassa, who is also a criminologist and expert on these issues. “The mistreatment of animals is shocking and only rarely does anyone do anything", she adds.However, stressed Querol, who is also member of the American Society of Criminology, “when there are cases detected of children who abuse animals you must be careful because this child may have a conduct disorder. What you can not overlook is an opportunity to intervene. "At this point she agrees with Dr. Montañés, which affects the need to "go to a psychiatrist in cases of cruelty to animals because at first these people can be worked with and treated easily. Lack of impulse control, empathy, anger management are symptomatic of things that can be treated if caught early", adds Querol.One of the objectives of this expert is to establish in Spain, as already exist in other countries, intervention programs to work with these people because "it is very important to change the values and it cannot be accomplished in a systematic way", she concludes.Dr Ronald Rosenfeld. D.V.M.

Source: The Olive Press 
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