by Elisa Black-Taylor
After reading what felt like the 20th animal cruelty case making the news today, I decided to do some research. My dear readers, you’re going to need a punching bag after reading this one. This story is extremely important so I’m telling it.
The case that fired me up was this one. If you want to be in a bad mood for days, feel free to read it. This is about a 10 year old girl from Ohio who drowned a Chihuahua dog. The dog was revived and died a few days later.
I get so tired of these cases. The child needs help (preferably before she graduates to serial killer). I really don’t know who to be furious at here-but I’m steaming mad at someone and have been for two days now. Because chances are this girl will receive little or no help, her “criminal record” will be concealed because she’s a minor and one day about ten years down the road we’ll see her name in the arrest records for assault or murder.
Above: read the story behind this photo on Flickr (click on the photo – opens new window/tab). The person who did this needed treatment..
I started thinking-what if we can head this off. I did a lot of research on serial killers on Kids Killing Cats. Let’s consider this the sequel. Can we determine thru a mental exam which children will turn into those arrested for animal cruelty tomorrow and serial killers once they reach adulthood? The answer is surprisingly “yes.” If we watch for the signs and do something about it before it’s too late.
I’m talking about CONDUCT DISORDER. This disorder affects 2%-16% of 9-17 year olds link to source. It affects more boys than girls and is more common in cities than in rural areas.
Conduct disorder covers a large spectrum of emotional and behavioral problems. Many times the children are simply labeled as “bad” because they have a hard time following the rules or acting in an appropriate way in public. Many parents of such children don’t realize it’s a mental health disorder and highly treatable. Especially if caught early.
While there is no exact medication to treat the condition, many drugs used to treat other conditions have been shown to bring the condition under control. It can be treated with neurotransmitter medications. Many of these children also have ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), learning disorders, depression and/or anxiety disorders. It can also be treated with psychotherapy by a qualified therapist. One therapy showing a good success rate is anger management along with cognitive therapy.
A good site for more on the subject and the many ways parents are helping each other handle these children can be found at: Conduct Disorders. They offer tips and suggestions all parents can learn and share with others. Sometimes it helps to feel you’re not dealing with this alone.
Conduct disorder is different than just going thru a “bad kid spell” as all children seem to do. It becomes a disorder when it is long lasting (typically six months or longer), disrupts the child’s life or the life of the family, and infringes on the rights of individuals.
Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for in children.
- Aggressive behavior that harms or threatens other people or animals;
- Destructive behavior that damages or destroys property;
- Lying or theft;
- Truancy or other serious violations of rules;
- Early tobacco, alcohol, and substance use and abuse;
- Precocious sexual activity.
Some other common signs are irritability, low self-esteem and the ability to throw temper tantrums on the spur of the moment. Children with this disorder cannot be told to stop because their actions are hurting others. They don’t care if what they’re doing is unacceptable to society. The disorder prevents them from caring about others. In other words, these children have sociopathic tendencies that if left untreated will only get worse. Most children start out with sociopathic behavior and quickly outgrow it. Part of a toddlers vocabulary is “mine.” That’s normal if the child is two. At ten it’s a problem and a warning. Those with the disorder don’t outgrow it. They get worse source link.
Here are some of the causes and a brief description.
Biology: Birth defects or injuries to the brain are some of the causes. Many also have a close family member with a mental illness. The argument for a long time has been that children who watch animal cruelty go on to become animal abusers themselves. Genetics may play more of a part than originally thought. If animal abusers have children who abuse pets and it’s partly genetic, we’re all in trouble. Studies show that parents of conduct disorder children have a higher than normal rate of mental illness.
Environment: A dysfunctional family life and inconsistent discipline contribute to the problem. Parents need to decide the punishment for different rules being broken and follow through. It’s not good to bail out a child every time he/she get’s into trouble. Children need to face their punishment in order to become good citizens. Parents need to teach children certain actions are NOT okay. Letting a child get away with bad behavior is one of the common regrets of parents with children who became killers.
Society: The child may not be accepted by peers and this also worsens the condition. This is usually caused by the way the child treats his peers and should be a major warning sign to parents.
- Early maternal rejection;
- Separation from parents, without an adequate alternative caregiver;
- Early institutionalization;
- Family neglect;
- Abuse or violence;
- Parental mental illness;
- Parental marital discord;
- Crowding; and
The stigma associated with having this type of behavior by a child is enough to prevent treatment to the many children who need it. Parents don’t want to admit their “angel” falls into this category. Sometimes it’s up to the teachers and counselor’s at school to identify and seek a diagnosis so the child can get help. Failure to treat can lead to school problems such as dropping out and failing. These can later turn into legal problems for the parents when the child attacks another child. Worst case scenario is the increased chance of drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and suicide as these rates are higher for teens with conduct disorder.
This is everyone’s problem. I’m sorry I have no ideas on how to approach a family whose child fits this description. I dealt with it in my hometown and the police basically turned a blind eye to animal to rture. They even threatened to lock me up if I called them back. Apparently blowing up small animals with firecrackers didn’t merit a visit. Usually when the Humane Society is called in the police also come because it could be a dog bite call. I don’t know how animal cruelty committed by children is dealt with elsewhere. I’m almost afraid to hear the feedback on that issue.
I can research and I can write and give my readers the ammunition to take to their leaders to strengthen animal cruelty laws. Unfortunately the children will probably fall thru the cracks. My opinion (oh I love this part) is enough is enough. This has to stop. I just don’t know how to stop it except for my writing and telling my readers this is happening and it’s happening everywhere.
I can warn my readers to keep their animals safe and a close eye on the neighborhood kids. In today’s sad society there’s probably an abuser among them. I want everyone to forward this article to anyone with kids and anyone who loves animals. Hopefully it will get into the right hands and this madness will stop.