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Exploring the Link between Corporal Punishment and Children's Cruelty to Animals Author(s): Clifton P.

Flynn Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Nov., 1999), pp. 971-981 Published by: National Council on Family Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/354017 . Accessed: 27/12/2010 12:26
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and policymakers for several reasons. but rarely studied empirically.family violence. This study of 267 college undergraduates examined the relationship between corporal punishment inflicted by parents and the perpetration of animal abuse. Rigdon & Tapia. 1983. Regression analyses showed that the association between fathers' corporal punishment and sons' childhood animal cruelty persisted after controlling for child abuse. Miller & Knutson. 1983. clinical studies of troubled youth and retrospective studies of physically and sexually aggressive criminals have revealed an association between childhood animal abuse and subsequent violence toward others. Key Words: animal abuse. Tingle. corporal punishment. 1998). Tapia.edu). cruel or abusive behavior toward animals by children may indicate serious developmental problems or potential psychopathology. and father's education. revised) added physical cruelty to animals to the list of symptoms serving as criteria for the diagnosis of conduct disorder (Ascione. animal cruelty. Robbins. Animal cruelty has been associated with a distortion or inhibition of empathy (Ascione. Newman. This relationship did not hold for males spanked by mothers orforfemales spanked by either parent. Lockwood & Ascione. University of South Carolina. & Lockwood. The implications of the association of animal abuse and family violence and its gendered nature are discussed. only three published studies have examined this relationship directly-two focus on violence toward children (DeViney et al. 1986). & Hutchinson. Although the link between the treatmentof animals and the treatment of humans enjoys a long historical and philosophical tradition (DeViney. The findings revealed that males who committed animal cruelty in childhood or adolescence were physically punished more frequently by their fathers. 1997). 1977. Dickert. clinicians. 1977. and one focuses on battered women (Ascione. father-to-mother violence. 1992. childhood cruelty toward animals may identify not only children who may engage in future antisocial be- Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (November 1999): 971-981 971 . spanking. and beginning in 1987 the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edition. Third. both in childhood and adulthood (Felthous & Kellert. 1986. especially by family scholars. SC 29303 (cflynn@gw.. Barnard. 1993). Boat (1995) suggested that the virtual absence of empirical research on the association between violence toward children and violence toward animals may be an ignored link in the field of child abuse and neglect. Second. Spartanburg. CLIFTON FLYNN University of South Carolina Spartanburg Exploring the Link Between CorporalPunishment and Children's Cruelty to Animals The link between interpersonal violence and violence to animals has been suggested.P. Children's cruelty to animals should receive serious attention from researchers. than males who did not perpetrate animal abuse. In fact. specific connection between violence to animals and various forms of family violence. First.uscs. both as preteens and teenagers. 1998). surprisingly little attention has been given to the Department of Sociology. 1993).

Tapia. 1994) has explained these relationships using what he calls "cultural spillover The early research on children's cruelty to animals was based on two distinct groups: clinical samples of psychiatric case studies of children and adolescents that presented cruelty to animals as a main complaint (e. including interpersonal aggression inside and outside the family (Straus. studies have reported that about half of children are still being hit as teenagers (Straus & Donnelly. Boat. Miller & Knutson. yet the potential connection between perpetrating animal cruelty and being spanked as a teen has not been investigated. Straus& Yodanis.. Ascione defined animal cruelty as "socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain. The comparable percentage of animal abuse in families with other forms of abuse (sexual abuse. The limited empirical evidence linking violence to children and children's cruelty to animals has focused on severe or abusive violence inflicted on children. Corporal punishment. but not injury. as well as physical pain. Gelles." This theory argues that the greater the level of socially approved violence in a society.the needless sufferingand death of countless animals are major problems that deserve attention. Kellert & Felthous. 1991. Straus. defined by Straus (1994). interpersonal violence-tend to be behaviors that are disproportionately carried out by males. This definition excludes socially accepted practices. 1997). Straus. & Steinmetz. the behaviors that are often examined-delinquency. Further. neglect. bestiality). suffering.g.g. I adopted Ascione's (1993) definition of animal cruelty. hunting. and wife beating (Straus & Kaufman Kantor. crime. Journal of Marriage and the Family theory. like animal abuse. 88% of families with physical abuse also had animal abuse.g. 1996. 1980. There is some evidence that adolescence is not an uncommon period for committing animal cruelty (Arluke & Luke. Rigdon & Tapia. Some of the more serious effects of receiving corporal punishment. or abuse due to psychiatric illness) was 34%. is "the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain. and pain. Finally. 1979. & Giles-Sims. Sugarman. DeViney et al. The study presented here seeks to examine the relationship between receiving corporal punishment and perpetrating animal abuse as a child or adolescent. suffering. Although the highest rates of corporal punishment are found with younger children.. Behaviors that are cruel could be acts of omission as well as commission. it looks at corporal punishment received prior to and during adolescence. 1995). the more likely one is to engage in culturally unacceptable violence. This research is significant in several ways. previous studies that have identified an array of negative outcomes related to corporal punishment have not focused on the gender of the parent or the child. It explores the relationship between parent-to-child violence and animal abuse using a nonclinical sample. or distress to and/or death of an animal" (p. Animal abuse was defined using . At the individual level. self-report studies of childhood animal cruelty among aggressive adult criminals (e. and distress encompass emotional or psychological pain (e.972 havior. 1993). not child abuse. 1994. This definition excludes more severe actions that many would view as abusive. It focuses on corporalpunishment. the more exposure to culturally acceptable violence. have been relatedto being spanked as an adolescent. Straus (1991. and the use of animals in research. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. 1971) and retrospective. such as depression. teasing. such as the humane killing of farm animals. ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR. In their study of 53 New Jersey families identified by the state as being involved in various forms of child abuse. males often reported experiencing chaotic and violent childhoods. typically at the hands of a brutalfather. FAMILY VIOLENCE AND ANIMAL CRUELTY ANDANIMAL CRUELTY Research on the effects of corporal punishment on subsequent child behavior has found spanking to be associated with delinquent or antisocial behavior. 4). Felthous & Kellert. If corporal punishment is related to aggression against humans. 1985). then it also may be linked to violence toward animals. the greater the level of illegitimate violence.for the purpose of correction or control of the child's behavior" (p. 1994. 228). 1986. In both populations. but also those who are living in violent. 1997. and it examines the influence of the gender of both the punishing parent and the child. Unintentional acts that have harmful consequences are also excluded. dysfunctional families (Arkow. (1983) were the first to set out to explore the relationship between child abuse and neglect and abuse of companion animals.. Yet a growing body of research has revealed potential negative outcomes from what many regard as ordinary or normal use of physical force-corporal punishment. For the purpose of this study. However. 1997). 1996). suicide ideation.

other animals could serve as scapegoats as well. males who had committed cruelty to animals during their youth often reported experiencing family violence while they were growing up. the modest nature of these associations led the authors to conclude that "it would be inappropriate to consider reports of animal cruelty as a marker of physical maltreatment or physical maltreatment as a marker of exposure to animal cruelty" (p. and that in clinical samples. it incorporates acts of physical discipline. and approximately 973 10% had caused animals pain in order to tease or torturethem. perpetrated A second problematic issue is related to the measure of physical punishment. In approximately two thirds of the pet-abusing homes. wild or stray animals.the relationship between receiving corporal punishment and perpetrating animal cruelty will be stronger for boys than for girls. I expect to find that the more frequently corporal punishment was received. Thus. Males were twice as likely as females to report exposure to cruelty69% to 33%.. a process whereby victims of child abuse inflict violence on their innocent and powerless pets. In the sample of college students. One fifth of the sample reportedcommitting one or more acts of animal abuse.As a result. The study presented here seeks to overcome this problem by separating acts of animal cruelty that were from those that were only witnessed. particularlyfrom their fathers. Although DeViney et al. Spanking by both fathers and mothers is examined to determine if the gender of the parentinfluences this relationship. the more likely the respondent was to perpetrate animal abuse. However. Gender was significantly related to experiencing animal cruelty. The only study to look specifically at the relationship between physical punishment and animal cruelty during childhood was conducted recently by Miller and Knutson (1997). Their measure of childhood exposure to animal cruelty combined the number of acts that were both perpetrated and witnessed against any animals.The Physical Punishment Scale of the Assessing Environments IIIForm SD was used as the measure of physical discipline. abandoning the animal in an unnatural or dangerous environment. kicking. This will be true for spanking inflicted before adolescence.Finally. the variable with the strongest correlation to animal cruelty was physical punishment (r = . One difficulty with the Miller and Knutson (1997) study is that the variable. fathers were the abusers.Corporal Punishment and Animal Cruelty four criteria:observable or reportedpain or suffering due to unacceptable disciplinary actions. inhumanely causing the death of an animal. the relationship between being physically punished and perpetratinganimal abuse was not clearly delineated. including pets. the majority (57%) of respondents exposed to animal cruelty reported only witnessing acts of cruelty. and farm animals. The following hypotheses are examined.e. DeViney and colleagues suggested that pet abuse by children can be explained by scapegoating. abusive. They surveyed two different populations-convicted felons and college students-and looked at the link between childhood exposure to animal cruelty and several variables related to family dynamics and peer relationships. Second. such as punching. Third. combined both observed and perpetratedanimal cruelty. Significant correlations were found in both groups between exposure to animal cruelty and aversive childhood experiences. nearly half (48%) reported some exposure to animal cruelty. Similarly. that the majority of those who commit animal abuse are males. For the college sample. as well as duringthe teenage years. multiple regression is utilized to determine whether any relationship between corporal punishment and animal cruelty persists after controlling for relevant variables. 79). Veevers (1985) also referred to the scapegoat function that pets may serve in their role as surrogate humans in families. children were the abusers. in the other one third. One in seven students reported killing stray animals. and choking. First. I predict that males will commit animal cruelty at higher rates than females. the relationship of milder forms of physical discipline-corporal punishment-to animal cruelty has yet to be determined. But do these relationships hold when the violence experienced by children is ordinary spanking? This study focuses on the relationship between experiencing corporal punishment as a child and engaging in animal abuse during childhood or adolescence. that most would see as severe and potentially injurious-i. 1997). children who are physically punished frequently but who are not abused might also scapegoat animals. Ten of the 308 students reportedkilling their own pets. childhood exposure to animal abuse.28). The limited empirical evidence suggests that there is a link between harsh physical punishment and exposure to animal cruelty. Although this scale has been shown to be both reliable and valid (Miller & Knutson. despite these findings. . However. and neglecting the animal.'s study focused on pets.

farmer. bit. In an effort to eliminate reportingsocially sanctioned behaviors. demographic information and attitudinalitems were included. for each type of abuse. skilled work such as foreman. 1999). Eight possible responses for parents' education were coded 0-7 and ranged from some grade school to graduate degree. and spanking from mothers-preteen and teen. attacked them with a weapon." Other forms of family violence. The inventory also includes items that tap animal cruelty observed by the respondent. The questionnaire took approximately25 minutes to complete. Over 80% of the respondents were either freshmen (59%) or sophomores (24%). and their age when the cruelty first took place. If any of the five were reported.. Child abuse was measured by asking respondents whether their parents or stepparents ever kicked. Variables Perpetration of animal cruelty. (b) killed a stray or wild animal. To determinewhether any sociodemographic variables were related to animal cruelty. or (e) had sex with an animal. what was done to the animal. This variable was dichotomized as blue collar or white collar. The sample was predominantly White (73%). and professional. questions specifically excluded killing for food (i. Thus four distinct frequency measures were acquired: spanking from fathers-preteen and teen. hunting. (d) touched an animal sexually. This item was asked separately for each parent and for two times-preteen and teen. Respondents were asked: "About how often would you say your father/stepfather (or mother/stepmother) used physical punishment. About one fifth were African American. choked them. clerical or sales position. coded 0-6. and the latter three as white-collar occupations. Two such variableschild abuse and violence between parents-were assessed. and mercy killing." Possible responses. as well as other experiences. and each parent's occupation category. Eight out of 10 were younger than 21 years old. for use in a questionnaire format. In addition. Frequency of corporal punishment. In addition. Any relationship between corporal punishment and animal abuse would be suspect if other forms of family violence were not taken into account. These items were taken from Miller and Knutson (1997). The first three categories served as indicators of blue-collar occupations. and 80% currentlyowned pets. The majority was single (90%) and childless (96%). ranged from never to more than 20 times. such as pet ownership history and pet loss. Students in introductory sociology and psychology classes completed an 18-page questionnaire that asked about their experiences with family violence and animal cruelty. like spanking.e. respondents were asked to report the type of animal involved. the exclusion of hitting with objects from this definition reduces the chance of including abusive behaviors and thus more accurately represents physical punishment that most Americans would consider "normal. each parent's level of education. proprietor (except farm). (c) hurt or torturedan animal to tease it or to cause it pain. Following Turner and Finkelhor. punched. formerly called the AnimalRelated TraumaInventory(Boat. who adaptedthe Boat Inventoryon AnimalRelated Experiences. the following six characteristics were assessed for respondents: gender. the respondent was considered to have committed animal cruelty. Females composed slightly more than two thirds of the sample (68%). farm animals intended for slaughter). or beat them up. 1993). The frequency of corporalpunishment was assessed separatelyfor fathers and mothers and for two periods-the preteen years and the teenage years. slapping. For mother's occupation. or hitting you?" This operationalizationis identical to the one used by Turnerand Finkelhor (1996) and is similar to that used in other studies (Straus & Donnelly. race. For parents' occupations. and 92% were younger than 25. Sociodemographic variables. the number of separate incidents.974 Journal of Marriage and the Family METHODS Sample and Data Collection Two hundred and sixty-seven undergraduatesat a public university in the SoutheasternUnited States served as participantsfor this study. respondents also could choose "not employed outside the home. Nearly 92% had brothers and sisters. Perpetrationof animal cruelty was operationalized by asking respondents whether they had committed one of five different acts against animals: (a) killed a pet. possible choices included semiskilled or unskilled worker. Approximately 90% had pets in their childhood families. Violence between parents was measured by asking respondents how often during their entire childhood one parent ever hit .

beating.0 3. The most likely victims of abuse were small animals (e. Whites were somewhat more likely to commit animal abuse than non-Whites-19% vs. The most common methods of abuse were shooting and direct physical aggression-hitting. or throwing an animal against a wall. n = 182. There were no differences based on mother's education or on father's occupation.1 6.1 1.484. and almost 45% had witnessed others abuse animals. p = .4 34.6 1.3 Total 13. Small animals. 33 (70%) had committed only one kind of abuse.1 . among the males. This was approximately twice the rate of respondents whose mothers held white-collar occupations (15%) or those whose mothers did not work outside the home (14%). Males were significantly more likely to have committed animal cruelty than females. in general.001). However. dogs. and nearly six times more likely to have killed a pet than females.4 2. among females who had experienced animal abuse. The response categories were the same as those used with the corporalpunishment items. Over one third of the males-35%-had inflicted abuse on animals.g. once for each parent. Animal cruelty had been perpetratedby 18% of the respondents. Most who had killed a stray or wild animal were in their teens. PERCENTAGEOF RESPONDENTS WHO COMMITTED ANIMAL CRUELTY Type of Animal Cruelty Killed strayor wild animal Hurtor tortured animal Killed pet Touchedanimal sexually Performedsex acts with animal Perpetrated any animalcruelty Males 29. For females. 13%. and cats. than females. Shooting tended to be employed for killing animals.7 2. birds. Half of the respondents who were cruel to animals during their preteen years also abused animals as teenagers.0 2. Of the 47 respondents who had abused an animal. nearly two thirds of all perpetrators had committed animal abuse as adolescents.1 17. reptiles).6 Note: For males. Other than gender. Looking at this relationship in another way.5 Females 5. Two thirds of male respondents had either witnessed or perpetrated abusive acts against animals. killing a stray and hurting or torturingan animal to tease it or to cause it pain were the most common acts of abuse. Slightly 975 over 40% were between the ages of 6 and 12 years when they first perpetrated animal cruelty. This was asked twice.6 9. one out of two abused animals.1 6. Most respondents had only perpetrated one type of violence. TABLE 1. Responses ranged from never (0) to more than 20 times (6). either strays or pets. As can be seen in Table 1. Nearly 11% committed their first act when they were 2-5 years old. Nearly 29% of respondents whose mothers had blue-collar jobs perpetrated animal abuse. . threetimes more likely to have hurt or torturedan animal. rodents.Corporal Punishment and Animal Cruelty or threw something at the other parent. few sociodemographic differences emerged that distinguished perpetratorsof animal cruelty. but only 4 out of 10 females had witnessed or perpetrated animal abuse. About one third of respondents whose fathers had not completed high school had committed animal cruelty-about twice the rate of respondents with more-educated fathers. Sexually abusive acts were rare in this sample. compared with only 9% of females (X2= 25.8 1.. Thus.8 13. The majority of those who had perpetrated abuse had also witnessed it. Respondents with less-educated fathers had higher rates of animal cruelty than those whose fathers were more educated. the majority had perpetratedthat one type on more than one occasion. Males were six times more likely to have killed a strayanimal. Direct physical aggression was more commonly used when animals were hurt or tortured. while those who had hurt or tortured an animal or killed a pet were more likely to have done so between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Nearly half of the respondents (48%) were teens when they first abused an animal. Gender Differences in CommittingAnimal Cruelty As expected. Totaln = 267. kicking. Males were much more likely to have been exposed to animal abuse. RESULTS Descriptive Data on Animal Abuse been exNearly half of the sample-49%-had posed to animal abuse (either witnessed it or perpetrated it). three fourths had only witnessed abuse. were the typical victims of respondentswho killed. gender differences in animal abuse emerged.5 1. n = 84.

18 (2.07 (1. there was no relationship between how often they were spanked-by both parents or by either parent-and whether they abused animals. and n = 17 for the animalcruelty group. those who had abused an animal had been punished significantly more frequently by their parents than respondents who had never abused animals. Males who committed abuse against animals were spanked significantly more often by their fathers than those who had not committed animal cruelty. **p<. the relationship between the frequency of corporal punishment received and the perpetration of animal abuse held primarily for sons who were spanked by their fathers. The means are given for the overall sample and separately by gender.09) Females No Animal Cruelty 5. n = 54 for the no animal cruelty group.62 (3.FemalesSpankedby Mother .05 (1.59 (2.88) 3.10 11 . this difference is accounted for by fathers' spanking. males who had perpetrated animal cruelty had been spanked significantly more often than males who had never been abusive to animals.15) 3. For females. This difference in frequency appears to be due to spanking by fathers. when analyzed separately for each gender.976 2. FREQUENCY OF PRETEEN SPANKING AND PERPETRATION ANIMAL CRUELTY.02) Animal Cruelty 7. BY GENDER OF RESPONDENT AND PARENT OF 60 50 40 I-! 0 0 Never Never Once Once Twice Twice 3-5 3-5 6 -10 6 .68* (3.20 11 20 Over Over 20 20 Number of Times Spanked Before Age 13 Spankedby Father Females Spankedby Father --.02) 3.24) 2.76 (3.03) 2.56 (2.96* (3.10* (2.67) 2.07) 3. As hypothesized. n = 162 for the no animalcruelty group. FOR TOTAL SAMPLE AND BY GENDER (STANDARD DEVIATIONS IN PARENTHESES) Total Sample No Animal Cruelty Both parents Father Mother 5.93 (2. *p<.88) Animal Cruelty 5.and n = 47 for the animalcrueltygroup.43 (2. MEAN Journal of Marriage and the Family TABLE PRETEEN PUNISHMENT SCORES FROM BOTH PARENTS (COMBINED AND SEPARATELY)BY PERPETRATION OF ANIMAL CRUELTY.n = 218 for the no animalcrueltygroup. In short.91) Animal Cruelty 6.20) 3.MalesSpankedby Mother --0-.57** (2.96) 4.68 (2. There was no difference among the groups with regard to frequency of preteen punishment by mothers.52 (3. However.22) 2.05. Respondents who had been cruel to animals were physically punished significantly more frequently by their fathers than respondents who had not been cruel to animals.92 (3. Once again. Table 2 presents the mean scores of preteen punishment from both parents together and for each parent individually by animal abuse status.96 (2. we see a more specific relationship. and n = 29 for the animal cruelty group. Frequency of Corporal Punishment and Animal Abuse Frequency of spanking-preteen.04) Note: For the total sample. FIGURE 1.32) 2. When punishment scores from both parents are combined. For females.For males. Frequency of spanking by mothers was not related to sons' animal cruelty.005.02) 3.07) Males No Animal Cruelty 5.43 (2.

In general. RELATIONSHIPBETWEEN BEING SPANKED AS A TEEN AND PERPETRATINGANIMAL CRUELTY Animal Cruelty PercentageWho Perpetrated Spankedby Fatheror Mother Total sample n Males n Females n Yes (108) 24. Respondents who were hit as teenagers by their fathers were nearly three times more likely than those who were not hit to have committed animal cruelty. When the gender of the child was examined. More frequentuse of violence by fathersmay also be relatedto socioeconomic status. The distribution of frequency of teen spanking was highly skewed for both corporal punishment by fathers and mothers and for sons and daughters. perpetrating animal abuse is linked with being hit as a teen by the father. . As a result. Yet fathers who frequently hit their sons also may either abuse their children or hit their wives.) Because of the small number of male respondents who reported that they were abused by either parent (n = 14).2 No (138) 8. no real patternemerges. but not by the mother. the observed differences existed only for males who were hit by their fathers.1"* Yes (35) 45. Regression Analyses for Males Several bivariate analyses have revealed that corporal punishment by fathers during both preteen and adolescent years is related to male children's cruelty to animals. (Comparable regression analyses for females confirmed the results of the bivariate analyses showing no relationship between spanking and animal abuse and are not presented here. Nearly 60% of males who received corporal punishment more than 20 times from their fathers had abused an animal. the variablefor parentalviolence was limited to whether the respondents had ever seen their father hit or throw something at their mother. Three multiple regression models were run. the 7-point education score was used and treated as a continuous variable. For females.6 No (56) 28. Table 3 shows the relationship between receiving corporal punishment as a teenager and being cruel to an animal. In the first model.7 Yes (72) 12. a series of regression analyses was run to predict animal cruelty by males. except that rates of animal cruelty rise at the upper end of the frequency categories of physical punishment. If so.005. but not occupation.2 Yes (26) 46. the graph illustrates that the low rates of animal cruelty are unrelated to the frequency of receiving corporal punishment from either parent.5 No (106) 7. The relationship between receiving corporal punishment as a teen and perpetrating animal abuse did not hold for males who were spanked as teens by their mothers.2 No (179) 15.1 No (47) 25. Consequently. Spanking as a teen.when the gender of the parentis considered.0 No (194) 12.0 Spanked by Mother Yes (85) 21. for males spanked by their fathers. To control for these potentially confounding variables. the graph reveals a positive relationship between the frequency of spanking and the perpetration of animal abuse. **p .6 No (122) 9.1** Yes (40) 15. Like previous relationships. For the entire sample. compared with 23% who were not hit as teens by their 977 fathers. child abuse was operationalized as having been abused by either parent any time during childhood.05. then frequent spanking and children's cruelty to animals may more likely exist in violent homes.Corporal Punishment and Animal Cruelty Figure 1 illustrates the percentages of male and female respondents committing animal cruelty for each category of spanking frequency from each parent. being hit as a teenager is related to committing animal cruelty.2 Yes (59) 10.5 No (153) 13. Descriptive data revealed that father's education. frequency of the father's spanking TABLE 3.6 Spanked by Father Yes (69) 33. For males hit by their mother. Nearly 60% of male respondentswho were physically punished as teens by their fathers perpetrated animal abuse.0 < *p< .3** Yes (28) 57. Because fathers' hitting had emerged as central in the analysis. Being hit as a teenager by either parentwas unrelatedto females' perpetration of animal cruelty. spanked as a teen was dichotomized as a yes-no variable.4 No (56) 23. was related to animal cruelty.

after controlling for otherfamily violence and father'seducation. Respondents who had perpetrated animal abuse were physically punished more frequently before adolescence than those who had never abused an animal. compared with 49% in the study presented here. About half of the respondents had witnessed or perpetrated animal abuse.196 -. DIscusSION 4. F(5. In Model 3.if males' cruelty is rewardedby peers (see Arluke & Luke) and if it is condoned or goes unpunished by parentsor others. The model explained approximately 15% of the variabilityin the dependentvariable. Model 2 Beta b . but the frequency of being spanked by one's fatherbefore the teen years is no longer related to animal cruelty.225* *p <. REGRESSION ANALYSES OF MALES' ANIMAL CRUELTY-UNSTANDARDIZED AND STANDARDIZED COEFFICIENTS Model 1 Variable Father'sspanking-preteen Hit by fatheras teen Abused by parents Fatherhit mother Father'seducation Note: n = 80. As suspected. then masculine tendencies toward violence may be reinforcedfurther.024 . For male respondents. whether the respondent had been hit by his father as a teenager was entered.070 .0008.01. 75) = 5. p = . p during preteen years was included with the control variables.73. only father's educational level reaches statistical significance.005.198 -.076 .304*** b .408. and father's education level. In Model 1.07). This model explained 22% of the variability in the perpetrationof animal abuse. in their study. using three control variables-whether the respondent had ever been abused by either parent. 2.041 .230* -.321 -.314 -. 75) = 3.104 . three separate regression analyses were run to examine the relationship between the father's use of corporal punishment and animal cruelty. Approximately 20% of respondents in each study had committed some form of animal cruelty.091 . F(4. Among the control variables. The rate of animal abuse by males was almost four times greaterthan that of females. even after the covariates are considered.978 Journal of Marriage and the Family TABLE 4.277 -.222* -. a relationship between parentto-child violence and animal abuse was uncovered.01. = . only child abuse was not related to committing animal cruelty. The rates of exposure to animal abuse in this study were similar to those reported by Miller and Knutson (1997) in their study of Midwestern college students.05. t = 3.053 .067 .312** -.0002). 74) = Exposure to the abusive treatmentof animals during childhood was surprisingly widespread in this sample of Southern undergraduatestudents. Being spanked by one's father as a teenager remains significant. ***p < . although father-to-mother violence approaches significance (p = . F(4. With both corporal punishment variables in the model. In the second model.274 -. Approximately3% of respondents in both studies reportedthat they had killed a pet.091 Beta .010 .whether his fatherhad ever hit his mother. This is likely due to the relatively strong association of the two spanking variables. Both corporal punishment variables were enteredin the final model. 1997). Ten percent of Miller and Knutson's respondents and about 7% of the respondents in this study had hurt or torturedan animal to tease it or to cause it pain. For example. 48% had witnessed or perpetratedanimal cruelty.051 -. the incidence was even higher-two thirds had been exposed to (had witnessed or perpetrated)some form of cruelty. about one respondent in seven had killed a stray animal.354*** -. This finding was consistent with other studies linking males with animal cruelty (Arluke & Luke. p = . **p < . the frequency of the father's use of corporal punishment on the respondent as a preadolescent was significantly related to the respondent's perpetrationof animal cruelty.50 vs.304. The results from Model 2 indicate that being hit as a teenager by one's father is significantly related to perpetratinganimal abuse. 1997. Sons who were hit as teens by their fathers were punished significantly more frequently by fathers before adolescence than were sons who were never hit as teens by their fathers (4. and about one third had committed abusive acts.409. p = . only 1% of additional variability was explained.0014. both spanking variables are entered into the model. Of these variables. Cruelty to animals may provide some males the opportunity to rehearse these skills. Thus. The socialization experience for male children emphasizes dominance and aggression.090 Model 3 Beta . Miller & Knutson.356 -. Further. In both studies. This is particularlysignificant because the relationship was found not for abusive violence .291** b .94.

even after the child has reached adolescence. however. the findings presented here strongly imply that the treatmentof animals may be importantfor the development of empathy (Ascione. The findings from this study reveal that animal abuse is another example of deviant behavior that frequent corporal punishment may foster. 1986. This may partially explain why being hit as a teenager was the strongest predictor in the regression model and why the frequency of the father's spanking before adoles- . Kellert & Felthous. 1971). Wauchope & Straus. but also by reducing men's ability to respond compassionately toward their intimate partners. 1993) and thus for the future treatment of others. 1979. 1992. children. The more sons received culturally legitimate physical punishment from their fathers. and concern for animals are related. inflicting abuse on animals may reinforce the link between physical punishment and wife beating (see Straus & Yodanis. Another possibility is that the relationship between teen spanking by fathers and animal abuse for males may reflect an over-reliance on physical discipline by fathers throughout their sons' childhoods. 1991. Further. Tapia. Certainly. Masculine socialization includes lessons of dominance and aggression. the finding linking frequent spanking by fathers with sons' abuse of animals is consistent with cultural spillover theory (Straus. it could be that the early perpetration of animal cruelty may contribute to a behavior pattern that elicits a physical disciplinary response from the father. Over half of male teenagers who were hit by their fathers had perpetrated animal abuse. These results are important because they demonstrate that the link between corporal punishment and animal cruelty cannot be explained simply by pointing to other forms of violence in the family or to socioeconomic status.g. 1990). and it models a behavior-aggression-that males are expected to emulate. and the level of the father's education. males who were hit as teenagers by their fathers also were punished significantly more frequently by their fathers before adolescence than those who were not hit as teens. i.. Only further research can unravel such relationships. males are physically punished more frequently than females. Taken together. corporal punishment.males are more likely to perpetrate animal abuse than females. being spanked as a teenager could not cause sons to commit animal cruelty during their preadolescent years. In addition. the more likely they are to engage in socially unacceptable violence-namely. 1996). empathy. even after controlling whether the sons had suffered abuse during childhood.Corporal Punishment and Animal Cruelty toward the preteen child. Regression analyses of animal abuse by males showed that the relationship between receiving corporal punishment from fathers and inflicting animal cruelty held. not only by providing an opportunity to rehearse violence. & McCracken. Peterson. and animals. both before and during adolescence. receiving corporal punishment from fathers as a teenager was also linked with sons' committing animal cruelty. If gender. In fact. Adams.inflicted by the less-involved parent. Such a phenomenon would fit with feminist analyses (e. It is male-to-male physical punishment that increases the likelihood of animal abuse. 1994) that identify patriarchal cultural 979 support for male dominance and aggression used against women. The direction of the association is not clear. Perpetrating animal abuse is linked to frequent punishment by fathers of their sons. 1994). Males generally are expected to be more aggressive. Equally important was the fact that this association was found not among troubled youth or aggressive criminals. This finding is consistent with prior clinical studies of aggressive criminals and violent adolescents. 1985.e. Given that their socialization is less likely to focus on empathy and their structuralposition may make it less necessary. animal cruelty. studies that found that harsh punishment by fathers was associated with male perpetrators of animal cruelty (Felthous & Kellert. 1998. The high rates of animal abuse by males could greatly inhibit the development of empathy in males. However. Further analysis revealed that this relationship cannot be fully understood without considering the gender of both the parentand the child. and animal abuse. but among a nonclinical sample of college students. this result is not shocking. Fathers. Some boys who have been the victims of frequent corporal punishment from more powerful others-parents. are generally less involved in childrearingthan mothers. Rigdon & Tapia. especially fathers-may model this behavior in the abusive treatmentof less powerful others-animals.. the impact of corporal punishment by fathers on sons may be greater because it is potentially harsher. males who also abuse animals may find it difficult to show kindness and compassion toward humans. but for what many would term "ordinary"or "normal"violence. Given what we know about male socialization. and fathers are more likely to hit sons than daughters (Day. More specifically. In this study. spanking. whether they had witnessed their father hit their mother.

Although the targets were not always pets.g. the of gratefullyacknowledges contributions Jill Jones and three anonymousreviewersfor theirhelpfulcommentson earlier versionsof thisarticle. given that violence is likely to have been a more common experience for them. Perhaps the abuse of companion animals should be examined apart from cruelty to noncompanion animals. 1996). then its combination with frequent corporal punishment. animal abuse may provide the training ground for violence in adult relationships. and thus are more apt to be physically punished. which could increase their chances of being around animals (and thus animal abuse) and decrease their chances of being exposed to informationabout corporal punishment or animal abuse. tend to have been spanked more frequently and to view their own spankings more favorably (Flynn. If so and if animal cruelty tends to inhibit the development of empathy. it is correlational in nature. Either way. it seems likely that respondents forgot instances of violence. given the emotional relationship between human and pet and the dependent status of the companion animal. Future studies should investigate this possibility. and attitudinal outcomes associated with spanking are also associated with animal abuse. It seems likely that certain acts may not have been perceived as cruel by some. but it may use doubly reinforcethe instrumental of violence. because the sample is a convenience sample of college students at a Southernuniversity. Southernersare also more likely to be residents of rural areas. in general. (1983) and Veevers (1985). making it difficult to discern causality. author like to thankBarbara Boat for furnishing copy of the a Boat Inventory on Animal-RelatedExperiences and KarlaMillerandJohnKnutson providing for theirquesof The authoralso tionnaireadaptation that inventory. may have influenced the findings. This might be especially true for males. respondents were not asked whether they defined their actions toward animals as cruel or abusive. Future research should examine the consequences of abusing animals to see if many of the same emotional. generalizations must be made cautiously. Southerners. particularly in the case of fathers hitting sons. including a greater likelihood of both approving of and engaging in interpersonal violence (Straus. wild animals.As Veevers (1985) noted. the findings provide supportfor the notion of scapegoating described by DeViney et al. and Southern college students. NOTE Thisresearch supported. 1998). males may learn that violence is appropriate when they are physically hit by their fathers and when they get the chance to rehearse interpersonal violence on animals. compared with Northeastern students. It may be that violence toward animals results in some children being spanked by their parents and not the other way around. Fourth. 1993). 1994). part. 1994). The combined psychological effects of being both the recipient of violence from a parentand the perpetratorof violence against an animal may not only compound personality problems. innocent and powerless animals were more likely to be abused by those who were physically punished themselves. how animal cruelty was defined. these findings may reflect the fact that males are more likely to engage in deviant behavior. as well as the direction of the relationship between violence toward children and animal abuse.by a grantfromthe was in Fundof the UniTeachingand Productive Scholarship The would versityof SouthCarolina Spartanburg. The definition included the intentional maltreatmentof all types of animals (pets. First. . There are several limitations to the study. Research is needed of to examine the link between the perpetration aniviolence. The systematic investigation of the link between family violence and animal abuse is a recent and needed endeavor (Lockwood & Ascione. mal abuse and futureinterpersonal In addition. In other words.Further. including violence toward animals. It may be that both corporal punishment and animal cruelty are characteristicof a region where there is strong approval of violence (Baron & Straus.980 cence was no longer significant after being hit by the father as a teen was taken into account. Second. 1988). In addition. Vermeulen & Odendaal. both conceptually and operationally. the combination of perpetratinganimal cruelty and receiving corporalpunishment may provide a heightened opportunity for learning to approve of and engage in violence and may compound negative developmental effects associated with both experiences. Discovering the mechanisms by which this association operates would be a fruitful area of investigation. and farm animals). Now parent-to-child violence has been linked to animal cruelty.. because the study was retrospective. in particular. may seriously endanger both human and nonhuman animals. behavioral. Journal of Marriage and the Family Third. tend to have more favorable attitudes toward spanking (Flynn. Others have limited the scope to just companion animals and have incorporated unintentional behaviors as well (e. Research on corporal punishment has revealed negative psychological and behavioral consequences. strays.

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