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

May 2024/El Paso, Texas: Authorities were reportedly investigating a group of apparent Charles Q. Murphree PK–8 School students for alleged animal abuse related to the violent beating of a family’s dog. This cruelty was reportedly recorded on video and shared in a group chat. The footage appears to depict a young person repeatedly kicking, stomping on, and hitting a dog as the canine seemingly seeks to escape. The video, apparently recorded in a disturbingly entertained spirit, allegedly includes audio in which someone asks, “Are you gonna make him throw up?” along with sounds of people laughing throughout the vicious attack.
May 2024/Salem, Oregon: Police were reportedly investigating a group of young people suspected of animal abuse related to the gruesome shooting of Vortex, a local family’s cat, whose death was reportedly captured on home surveillance video. The footage appears to depict a group of teens gathered around the cat before another juvenile approaches and shoots the feline at close range with a long-barreled gun. As the cat convulsed on the ground following the alleged vicious attack, the five teens were reportedly seen video-recording the scene in a disturbingly amused spirit. The alleged original shooter then appears to fire a second, point-blank shot at the cat, after which the group reportedly carried his lifeless body to a neighboring yard.
April 2024/Broward County, Florida: A 14-year-old was reportedly facing felony charges, including baiting animals, animal cruelty involving torment, and animal cruelty resulting in death, after allegedly hurling an object at a black cat named Ringo in order to cause him to jump down from his perch on a car. A pair of dogs reportedly spotted the feline and immediately began chasing him, having allegedly been encouraged to do so by the teen. This violent incident was apparently captured on surveillance video, and Ringo’s lifeless body—reportedly bearing horrific bite marks—was discovered a few hours later.

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