Children’s attitudes towards animal cruelty: explorations of predictors and socio-demographic variations

Roxanne D. Hawkins, Joanne M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Assessing the risk for animal cruelty is imperative, yet understudied and problematic due to the sensitivity of the topic. Early prevention is critical, yet very little research examines cruelty when it first appears in childhood. The aim of this study was to explore children’s attitudes
towards types of animal cruelty, to investigate potential demographic differences, and to examine potential associations between acceptance of cruelty and cognitive and affective factors that place children ‘at-risk’ for cruelty perpetration. Questionnaire data was collected
from 1,127 children in schools. The results indicate that cruelty attitudes are predicted by some demographic variables such as urban living, being male, younger age and not having pets, but depend on the type of animal cruelty. Acceptance of cruelty predicted low compassion and low reported humane behaviour towards animals. Acceptance of cruelty was predicted by negative
attitudes towards animals, lower beliefs in animal minds and low attachment to pets, signifying the importance of targeting such variables in future prevention programmes. This study is an original contribution to research into childhood animal cruelty in the general population, with implications for designing and implementing early prevention programmes that tackle
problematic attitudes to cruelty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-247
Number of pages22
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Volume26
Issue number3
Early online date14 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Animal cruelty
  • Animal abuse
  • Attitudes
  • Children
  • Demographics

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