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.

Browse the List


State Laws

§ 22.1-208.01. Character education required.

“Each school board shall establish, within its existing programs or as a separate program, a character education program in its schools, which may occur during the regular school year, during the summer in a youth development academy offered by the school division, or both. The Department of Education shall develop curricular guidelines for school divisions to use in establishing a character education program through a summer youth development academy. The purpose of the character education program shall be to instill in students civic virtues and personal character traits so as to improve the learning environment, promote student achievement, reduce disciplinary problems, and develop civic-minded students of high character. The components of each program shall be developed in cooperation with the students, their parents, and the community at large. The basic character traits taught may include (i) trustworthiness, including honesty, integrity, reliability, and loyalty; (ii) respect, including the precepts of the Golden Rule, tolerance, and courtesy; (iii) responsibility, including hard work, economic self-reliance, accountability, diligence, perseverance, and self-control; (iv) fairness, including justice, consequences of bad behavior, principles of nondiscrimination, and freedom from prejudice; (v) caring, including kindness, empathy, compassion, consideration, generosity, and charity; and (vi) citizenship, including patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, respect for the American flag, concern for the common good, respect for authority and the law, and community-mindedness.” (Source)

Reported Animal Abuse Cases

March 2023/Appomattox County, Virginia

WTKR.com reported that a juvenile was facing charges after allegedly shooting eight horses, killing five and injuring three.

February 2020/Gloucester County, Virginia

The Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office reported that a 19-year-old male from Gloucester had been arrested following an investigation “focusing on bestiality related to an assault upon a dog.” The man faces a felony charge of carnal knowledge of an animal and a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals.

January 2019/Wise County, Virginia

TheCoafieldProgress.com reported that a 15-year-old boy from the Wise area faces a juvenile charge of cruelty to animals for his alleged involvement in the death of a stray dog.

July 2018/Bristol, Virginia

KFOXTV.com reported that a 17-year-old girl had been accused of spraying a stray kitten with pepper spray. The teen was placed on probation and could be charged if she doesn’t comply with probation requirements. The kitten, named Peppy, has been adopted.

June 2018/Virginia Beach, Virginia

WAVY.com reported that an 18-year-old was sentenced to 12 months in the Community Corrections program (which includes a mental health evaluation) after he strangled three goslings and slammed them to the ground. The birds died of blunt force trauma.

January 2017/Reston, Virginia

Patch.com reported that a teenager was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after allegedly throwing a guinea pig off a balcony. The guinea pig was reportedly someone’s animal companion and did not survive the incident.

December 2016/Radford, Virginia

WUSA9.com reported that four Radford University fraternities had been suspended amid reports that a goat was abused by student groups. School leaders were reportedly made aware of the possible mistreatment. Pictures of the goat were reportedly seen on social media, but the animal had not yet been found.

July 2016/Virginia Beach, Virginia

PilotOnline.com reported that two teenagers had been charged with cruelty to animals after allegedly dousing a live hamster in gasoline and lighting him on fire, then posting a video of the act on Snapchat.