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.


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.

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.

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

July 2024/Etowah County, Alabama: 18-year-old Trenton Dewayne Sudberry and an unnamed juvenile were reportedly arrested for allegedly shooting a gun at a dog named Bullet, apparently as “target practice". Both individuals have reportedly been charged with cruelty to animals. The attack was reportedly recorded on video, and the alleged footage appears to depict an individual shooting a long-barrel gun at close range at a dog tied to a tree as the canine seemingly tries to escape. Bullet, who had reportedly been missing, is apparently safe and has been reunited with his family, which says it’s dedicated to supporting his recovery from this traumatic ordeal.
June 2024/Isla Vista, California: Authorities reportedly arrested a 14-year-old boy for allegedly beating four hens—Shadow, Siracha, Speckles, and Sunshine—to death at an Episcopal church. The hens, who were reportedly considered beloved community members, were allegedly beaten with a bat-like object after their locked coop was apparently burgled by the teen.
May 2024/Meriden, Connecticut: 18-year-old Carmello Roberts was reportedly charged with first-degree cruelty to animals for allegedly viciously beating to death an adolescent cat named Noodles. During the fatal attack, Roberts allegedly struck him with a large knife, punched him with brass knuckles, and smashed his head with a bowling ball. The teen reportedly texted to friends that “the eyes popped out” and that he “enjoyed it.” The cat had apparently lived next door to Roberts, and his lifeless body—reportedly bearing horrific wounds—was found by following a trail of blood over a backyard fence.

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