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The Relationship between Bullying and Animal Cruelty Behaviours in Australian Adolescents. Nerida Robertson Eleonora Gullone. Clinical Similarities Between Animal Cruelty and Bullying.

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the relationship between bullying and animal cruelty behaviours in australian adolescents

The Relationship between Bullying and Animal Cruelty Behaviours in Australian Adolescents

Nerida Robertson

Eleonora Gullone

clinical similarities between animal cruelty and bullying
Clinical Similarities Between Animal Cruelty and Bullying
  • Two of the earliest symptoms of conduct disorder as defined by the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
  • First appear between 6.5 and 7 years of age, and when identified in early childhood, are valid indicators of childhood psychopathology (Frick et al., 1993).
clinical similarities cont
Clinical similarities (cont.)…

A history of childhood animal cruelty has been associated with

  • later delinquency and criminality (Arluke, Levin, Luke, & Ascione, 1999; Henry, 2004),
  • adult violence against humans (Merz-Perez, Heide, & Silverman, 2001) and,
  • antisocial personality disorder in adulthood Gleyzer, Felthouse, & Holzer, 2002)
clinical similarities cont4
Clinical similarities (cont.)…

Likewise, childhoodbullying behaviours have been linked to

  • delinquency (Baldry & Farrington, 2000; Rigby & Cox, 1996; Viljoen, O'Neill, & Sidhu, 2005),
  • a greater risk of adult antisocial behaviour (Haynie et al., 2001; Salmon, James, Cassidy, & Javaloyes, 2000)
  • and poor academic, social, emotional, behavioural and relationship outcomes (Hanish & Guerra, 2004; Toblin, Schwartz, Hopmeyer Gorman, & Abou-ezzeddine, 2005).
conceptual similarities between animal cruelty and bullying
Conceptual Similarities Between Animal Cruelty and Bullying
  • Definitions.
  • Common behaviours in childhood.
  • Predominantly observed in males.
1 definitions
1. Definitions

ANIMAL CRUELTY – “socially unacceptable behaviour that intentionally causes pain, suffering or distress to and/or death of an animal” (Ascione, 1993, p.228).

BULLYING – “involves a desire to hurt + a power imbalance + (typically) repetition + an unjust use of power + evident enjoyment by the aggressor and generally a sense of being oppressed on the part of the victim” (Rigby, 2002, p.51).

2 common behaviours in adolescence
2. Common Behaviours in Adolescence

Animal Cruelty:

  • Research has shown that between 17.6% and 20.5% of undergraduate students have engaged in animal cruelty (Flynn, 2000; Miller & Knutson, 1997).
  • Up to 50% of adolescents aged 9-17 years have reported engaging in animal cruelty (Baldry, 2003a)
2 common behaviours in adolescence cont
2. Common Behaviours in Adolescence (cont.)

Bullying:

  • Between 20% and 80% of youth admit to engaging in bullying other children

(Baldry, 1998; Bosworth, Espelage, & Simon, 1999; Hanish & Guerra, 2004; Salmon et al., 2000).

3 predominantly observed in males
3. Predominantly Observed in Males
  • Males have rates of animal cruelty behaviours that are four times higher than those of females (Flynn, 1999).
  • Males are more likely than females to engage in bullying behaviours (Baldry, 1998; Bosworth et al., 1999; Smith & Myron-Wilson, 1998; Veenstra et al., 2005).
exposure to violence and childhood animal cruelty and bullying
Exposure to Violence and Childhood Animal Cruelty and Bullying
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are at least twice as likely to report engaging in animal abuse than children from non-violent backgrounds (Baldry, 2003a; Currie, 2006).
exposure to violence cont
Exposureto Violence (cont.)
  • Children who have witnessed acts of animal cruelty, report significantly higher levels of engagement in animal cruelty, than their peers who have not witnessed animal cruelty (Thompson & Gullone, in press)
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are 1.8 times more likely to engage in bullying behaviours than those who were not exposed (Baldry, 2003b)
aims of the research
Aims of the Research

To investigate:

  • The relationship between animal cruelty behaviours in Australian adolescents and their concurrent bullying behaviours.
  • Factors which may predict or mediate the relationship between animal cruelty and bullying behaviours.
participants
Participants
  • A sample of 241 (102 males & 139 female) students from Melbourne metropolitan secondary schools.
  • The sample consisted of adolescents aged between 12 and 16 years of age.
two questionnaires
Two Questionnaires
  • Physical and Emotional Tormenting Against Animals Scale (P.E.T.).
  • Peer Relations Questionnaire (PRQ).
p e t
P.E.T.

Physical and Emotional Tormenting Against Animals Scale (P.E.T.)(Baldry, 2004). Measures two aspects of animal cruelty:

  • 5 “direct abuse” items: measure frequency of direct abuse (i.e., hurting, tormenting, bothering, hitting, and/or being cruel to an animal).
  • 4 “indirect abuse” items: measure frequency of witnessing abuse inflicted by others on animals (father, mother, peers, or other adults).
slide17
PRQ

Peer Relations Questionnaire (PRQ)(Rigby & Slee, 1993)

  • 2 items (Section D) assessed incidents of being bullied, and frequency of being bullied.
  • 2 items (Section F) assessed frequency of participation in bullying, either as part of a group or individually.
prevalence rates
Prevalence Rates
  • 22.8% reported having committed at least one type of animal abuse (i.e., being cruel to, hitting, tormenting, bothering, and/or hurting).
  • 36.5% reported witnessing at least one act of animal cruelty perpetrated by another person.
prevalence rates cont
Prevalence Rates (cont.)
  • 17.8% of adolescent reported engaging in individual or group bullying.
  • 47.7% reported being the victims of bullying.
gender and age
Gender and Age
  • Males scored significantly higher than females on animal cruelty.
  • Older adolescents (14-16years) scored significantly higher than younger adolescents (12-13years) on animal cruelty.
  • No significant age or gender effects were found for bullying, witnessing of animal cruelty, or victimisation.
possible explanations of findings
Possible Explanations of Findings

When a child experiences home or school conditions

where they feel victimised, disturbed or abused;

  • They may seek to gain control over a being (human or non-human) who is less powerful (Gullone et al., 2002).
  • Their development of empathy may become disrupted resulting in lower than normative levels.
  • Further, such experiences are likely to promote a callous disregard for the welfare of others (Ascione, 1999; Lahey, Waldman, & McBurnett, 1999; Thompson & Gullone, 2003)
slide25
A child who grows up in a home where violence

to humans and/or animals is common;

  • May learn to generalise home violence to other areas of their lives including being cruel to animals and peers (Faver & Strand, 2003; Flynn, 2000; Pelcovitz, Kaplan, DeRosa, Mandel, & Salzinger, 2000).
  • This learned aggression may then play a causal role in the emergence of victimisation, whereby children who engage in such behaviours are at high risk for rejection by peers (Schwartz et al., 1999).
  • Peer rejection leads to active victimisation, which in turn, exacerbates aggression (Hay et al., 2004;).
implications
Implications
  • Professionals working with children should not take lightly any instances when children are observed to either harm animals or their peers, since each is an indicator that the other may be co-occurring.
implications cont
Implications (cont.)
  • Given the findings relating to victimisation and witnessing, it is likely that the aggressive child’s environment may not be an optimally safe one.
  • The relationship between animal cruelty and bullying suggests that intervention strategies that are successfully applied to one behaviour may be equally successfully applied to the other behaviours.
references
References
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (text revision) (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Arluke, A., Levin, J., Luke, C., & Ascione, F. (1999). The relationship of animal abuse to violence and other forms of antisocial behavior. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 963-975.
  • Ascione, F. R. (1993). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychopathology. Anthrozoös, 6(4), 226-247.
  • Ascione, F. R. (1999). The abuse of animals and human interpersonal violence: Making the connection. In F. Ascione & P. Arkow (Eds.), Child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse: Linking the circles of compassion for prevention and intervention (pp. 50-61). West Lafayette, Indiana: Ourdue University Press.
  • Baldry, A. C. (1998). Bullying among Italian middle school students: Combining methods to understand aggressive behaviours and victimisation. School Psychology International, 19(4), 361-374.
  • Baldry, A. C. (2003a). Animal abuse and exposure to interparental violence in Italian youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(3), 258-281.
  • Baldry, A. C. (2003b). Bullying in schools and exposure to domestic violence. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27, 713-732.
  • Baldry, A. C. (2004). The development of the P.E.T. scale for the measurement of physical and emotional tormenting against animals in adolescence. Society and Animals, 12(1), 1-17.
  • Baldry, A. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2000). Bullies and delinquents: Personal characteristics and parental styles. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 10, 17-31.
  • Bosworth, K., Espelage, D. L., & Simon, T. R. (1999). Factors associated with bullying behavior in middle school students. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19(3), 341-362.
  • Currie, C. L. (2006). Animal cruelty by children exposed to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect Vol 30(4) Apr 2006, 425-435.
  • Faver, C. A., & Strand, E. B. (2003). Domestic violence and animal cruelty: Untangling the web of abuse. Journal of Social Work Education, 39(2), 237-253.
  • Flynn, C. P. (1999). Exploring the link between corporal punishment and children's cruelty to animals. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61(4), 971-981.
  • Flynn, C. P. (2000). Why family professionals can no longer ignore violence toward animals. Family Relations, 49(1), 87-95.
  • Frick, P. J., Lahey, B. B., Loeber, R., Tannenbaum, L., Van Horn, Y., Christ, M. A. G., et al. (1993). Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder: A meta-analytic review of factor analyses and cross-validation in a clinic sample. Clinical Psychology Review, 13, 319-340.
  • Gleyzer, R., Felthous, A. R., & Holzer, C. E. (2002). Animal cruelty and psychiatric disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 30(2), 257-265.
  • Gullone, E., Johnson, J., & Volant, A. (2002). The relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence. Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre Newsletter(2), 3-11.
  • Hanish, L. D., & Guerra, N. G. (2004). Aggressive victims, passive victims, and bullies: Developmental continuity or developmental change? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 50(1), 17-38.
  • Hay, D. F., Payne, A., & Chadwick, A. (2004). Peer relations in childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(1), 84-108.
  • Haynie, D. L., Nansel, T., Eitel, P., Crump, A. D., Saylor, K., Yu, K., et al. (2001). Bullies, victims, and bully/victims: Distinct groups of at-risk youth. Journal of Early Adolescence, 21(1), 29-49.
  • Henry, B. C. (2004). The relationship between animal cruelty, delinquency, and attitudes toward the treatment of animals. Society and Animals, 12(3), 185-207.
references29
References
  • Lahey, B. B., Waldman, I. D., & McBurnett, K. (1999). Annotation: The development of antisocial behavior: An integrative causal model. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40(5), 669-682.
  • Merz-Perez, L., Heide, K. M., & Silverman, I. J. (2001). Childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against humans. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(5), 556-573.
  • Miller, K. S., & Knutson, J. F. (1997). Reports of severe physical punishment and exposure to animal cruelty by inmates convicted of felonies and by university students. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21(1), 59-82.
  • Pelcovitz, D., Kaplan, S. J., DeRosa, R. R., Mandel, F. S., & Salzinger, S. (2000). Psychiatric disorders in adolescents exposed to domestic violence and physical abuse. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(3), 360-369.
  • Rigby, K. (2002). New perspectives on bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Rigby, K., & Cox, I. (1996). The contribution of bullying at school and low self-esteem to acts of delinquency among Australian teenagers. Personality and Individual Differences, 21(4), 609-612.
  • Rigby, K., & Slee, P. T. (1993). The Peer Relations Questionnaire (PRQ). Adelaide: University of South Australia.
  • Salmon, G., James, A., Cassidy, E. L., & Javaloyes, M. A. (2000). Bullying a review: Presentations to an adolescent psychiatric service and within a school for emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 5(4), 563-579.
  • Schwartz, D., McFayden-Ketchum, S., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Early behavior problems as a predictor of later peer group victimisation: Moderators and mediators in the pathways of social risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27(3), 191-201.
  • Smith, P. K., & Myron-Wilson, R. (1998). Parenting and school bullying. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 3(3), 405-417.
  • Thompson, K., & Gullone, E. (2003). Promotion of empathy and prosocial behaviour in children through humane education. Australian Psychologist, 38, 175-182.
  • Toblin, R. L., Schwartz, D., Hopmeyer Gorman, A., & Abou-ezzeddine, T. (2005). Social-cognitive and behavioral attributes of aggressive victims of bullying. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 329-346.
  • Veenstra, R., Lindenberg, S., Oldehinkel, A. J., De Winter, A. F., Verhulst, F. C., & Ormel, J. (2005). Bullying and victimization in elementary schools: A comparison of bullies, victims, bully/victims, and uninvolved preadolescents. Developmental Psychology, 41(4), 672-682.
  • Viljoen, J. L., O'Neill, M. L., & Sidhu, A. (2005). Bullying behaviors in female and male adolescent offenders: Prevalence, types, and association with psychosocial adjustment. Aggressive Behavior, 00, 1-16.