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.

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State Laws

1003.53Dropout prevention and academic intervention.—… 

(1)(a) Dropout prevention and academic intervention programs may differ from traditional educational programs and schools in scheduling, administrative structure, philosophy, curriculum, or setting and shall employ alternative teaching methodologies, curricula, learning activities, and diagnostic and assessment procedures in order to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and talents of eligible students. The educational program shall provide curricula, character development and law education, and related services that support the program goals and lead to improved performance in the areas of academic achievement, attendance, and discipline.” (Source)

1003.42Required instruction.

(2)(l) Kindness to animals. (Source)

Reported Animal Abuse Cases

April 2024/Broward County, Florida

Yahoo News reported that a 14-year-old was 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.

June 2023/Plant City, Florida

WTSP.com reported that a teenager had been charged with taking an alligator without a permit after a social media video circulated showing a group of teens allegedly force-feeding a baby alligator alcohol and tossing the animal around. Reportedly, the alligator was repeatedly gripped by the neck and thrown onto the hot pavement of a parking lot.

May 2023/Marion County, Florida

WFTV.com reported on the arrest of 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.” The teen reportedly posted a video of the assault on Snapchat.

August 2022/Ocala, Florida

Ocala-News.com reported that a 15-year-old was allegedly arrested and charged for attending the fighting or baiting of animals after a cockfighting operation was reportedly discovered in a home. According to news outlets, 28 roosters were found dead throughout the property and three were found alive but had to be euthanized.

May 2022/Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

FirstCoastNews.com reported that five high school students had gutted a bull shark and hung the animal up in the rafters of their school, presumably as part of a senior prank.

June 2020/Palm Coast, Florida

IBTimes.com reported that a 16-year-old boy had been arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after his friend uploaded videos in which the boy aggressively beat a dog with a leather belt.

August 2019/Hollywood, Florida

Local10.com reported that a group of kids were recorded on video running over an iguana with a shopping cart and throwing objects at the animal as he or she tried to escape.

April 2019/Escambia County, Florida

NorthEscambia.com reported that a Ransom Middle School student had allegedly abused a rabbit by tossing the animal into the air and allowing him or her to fall to the ground repeatedly. The alleged incident was recorded with a camera and shared on social media.

May 2018/Ocala, Florida

ClickOrlando.com reported that a teacher in Forest High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program reportedly drowned an opossum and two raccoons, while students in an agriculture class assisted, because he believed that the animals were “nuisances” to the agricultural program.

January 2018/Boca Raton, Florida

AJC.com reported that a teenager had been sentenced to a month in jail, a year of house arrest, and another two years of probation for fatally beating his 4-month-old pit bull. A veterinary examination discovered bruising on the puppy’s head, broken teeth, and a lacerated liver, which is believed to have led to the dog’s death.

December 2017/Cape Coral, Florida

NBC-2.com reported that a teenager had been accused of filming himself kicking a cat and then later bragging about it on social media.

October 2016/Orlando, Florida

OrlandoSentinel.com reported that a University of Central Florida student had been arrested and charged after allegedly tormenting, mutilating, and killing his puppy, Julian. The suspect allegedly admitted to hitting the dog multiple times because he had urinated in the house. The dog, who appeared to have been beaten to death, reportedly sustained head injuries, traumatic lesions, and fractured bones.

May 2016/Nassau County, Florida

ActionNewsJax.com reported that three teenage girls had been charged with cruelty to animals after a Snapchat video surfaced that appeared to depict a rabbit being repeatedly thrown against a wall. The teens responsible were reportedly between the ages of 13 and 14. The animal allegedly sustained a fractured leg and other injuries.

November 2015/Brandon, Florida

FOX13News.com reported that a dead deer had been found hanging from a flagpole on a local high school campus, and some students suspected that it was a “prank” committed by students at a rival high school. The case was being investigated by authorities.

October 2015/Ocala, Florida

WFTV.com reported that a teenager had been arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals after admitting that he poisoned his neighbor’s 10-year-old dog because she barked at his birds. The teen put antifreeze into a boiled egg and fed it to her through the fence. She was reportedly in critical condition after ingesting the poison and died that day.

March 2015/Tampa, Florida

USAToday.com reported that two teenagers had been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals after allegedly abusing a dog named Cabela, who was tied to railroad tracks and shot multiple times. One of her legs was shattered by a bullet, but she survived surgery and was recovering from the attack.

February 2015/Fort Lauderdale, Florida

NBCMiami.com reported that a group of teenagers had been accused of killing a pelican. The attack was reportedly caught on video by a security camera, and the teens allegedly killed the bird by restraining him and repeatedly blowing fumes from an e-cigarette into his beak and eyes, then holding his beak closed so that he couldn’t breathe.

October 2014/Clay County, Florida

News4Jax.com reported that an 11-year-old Middleburg Elementary School student had been charged with cruelty to animals after admitting to killing his mother’s dog. The dog had reportedly been found in a shallow grave on the family’s property and was missing his head and paws.

July 2014/Orange Park, Florida

NYDailyNews.com reported that two teenage girls—ages 18 and 15—had been arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals after allegedly torturing and killing a gopher tortoise and then posting a video of the act on Facebook. The video reportedly shows them laughing while dousing the tortoise with a flammable liquid, kicking him, lighting him on fire, and stomping him to death.

December 2013/Molino, Florida

NorthEscambia.com reported that two teenagers and two 20-year-olds had been charged with felony cruelty to animals, among other offenses, after allegedly killing a family’s caged cockatoo with a knife while burglarizing their home.

June 2013/Melbourne, Florida

NBCMiami.com reported that a 17-year-old had been charged with cruelty to animals after a video surfaced on social media sites that appeared to depict him shooting and killing a caged raccoon and opossum. The case was reportedly still under investigation.