Epidemic:
Kids Hurting Animals

As mental-health and law-enforcement experts well know, cruelty to animals and violence against humans are inextricably linked. Many educators are aware that serial killers and school shooters—including alleged killers Salvador Ramos, Payton Gendron, Nikolas Cruz, and Ethan Crumbley—tend to have a history of cruelty to animals, and Sandy Hook Promise has cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list.

Forty-three percent of perpetrators of schoolyard massacres commit acts of cruelty to animals first. Educators can help prevent future tragedies by including kindness to animals in the curriculum. Amid the current epidemic of youth violence, PETA urges everyone to report every act of cruelty against animals and calls on authorities to take each animal abuse claim seriously—for the sake of the animal victims and to help prevent future harm. Lives may depend on it.

USA

Select your state or province to view its laws that pertain to teaching about kindness to animals as well as its incidents of youth violence against animals.

DON’T MISS THE SIGNS
Young people who abuse animals often go on to commit acts of violence against humans. Animals have often been targets of aggression prior to school shootings.

PREVENT FUTURE TRAGEDIES
Many states and provinces have enacted laws mandating instruction in kindness, compassion, and justice. By vigorously enforcing these laws, we can foster children’s empathy for animals and prevent future acts of violence.

Latest Cases

January 2024/Sussex, Wisconsin: A teen allegedly suffocated a Chihuahua named Batman with a plastic bag and stabbed him in the chest with scissors, reportedly while babysitting a 4-year-old child at the Waukesha County home where he lived with his guardians. The teen apparently admitted to police that she “just wanted the dog to leave her alone” and that she “lashes out” when angry.
September 2023/Miamisburg, Ohio: A juvenile reportedly admitted to stabbing a deceased dog, who had ostensibly recently been hit by a car, three times—purportedly in response to a dare—before allegedly throwing the animal’s mutilated body into a dumpster.
July 2023/Coquitlam, B.C: Three juveniles were allegedly seen swarming around a chicken, kicking and striking the bird. The teens reportedly fled the scene prior to the arrival of Coquitlam RCMP officers, allegedly abandoning the distressed hen, who police apparently believed to be a companion animal.

PETA keeps an updated list of reported incidents in which young people commit acts of cruelty to animals. Many acts of cruelty go unreported. This resource is meant to illustrate how prevalent the problem is and provide educators with tools to teach students what it means to have compassion for all sentient beings. If you aren’t an educator, please share this page with educators you know and inform them about TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—and our empathy-building educational resources.

What You Can Do

This may seem like an overwhelming problem, but you can make an impact by taking violence-prevention steps right now. To get started, download our free humane education guide today.

Contact TeachKind if you have any questions.

“Exposure to animal cruelty can have a significant impact on the developing child, including promoting desensitization and decreasing empathy … and leading to the imitation of abusive behaviors.”

—Dr. Barbara Boat, Director of the Program on Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment at the University of Cincinnati