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

May 2023/Manlius, New York: Three Syracuse teenagers were arrested in relation to the abduction of mother swan Faye and her four cygnets from the Manlius Swan Pond. Faye was allegedly killed and then reportedly eaten on Memorial Day by one of the teen’s families, and her mate, Manny, has since been seen swimming alone in the pond.
May 2023/Marion County, Florida: A 14-year-old who allegedly shot his family’s dog, Autumn, with a BB gun multiple times while she was “just sitting on the porch and not showing any aggression” was arrested. The teen reportedly posted a video of the assault on Snapchat.
May 2023/Cheektowaga, New York: A teen allegedly attempted to drown a family member’s terrier-mix dog, Sprocket, in the bathtub of a home in Cheektowaga. Sprocket required emergency veterinary treatment as a result of the alleged incident, and the teen was reportedly charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. He was also charged for other incidents in which he allegedly harmed animals.
May 2023/Amarillo, Texas: A 17-year-old who allegedly shot two dogs was reportedly charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals along with additional crimes. Pearl, a chocolate Labrador retriever, reportedly died as a result of the incident.

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