Psychological Risk Factors for Childhood Nonhuman Animal Cruelty

A Systematic Review

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 2 Division of Psychiatry, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 3 School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Despite growing research into human-nonhuman animal relationships, little is known about childhood cruelty to nonhuman animals. The purpose of this review was to investigate the potential psychological risk factors for childhood cruelty to animals. The aim was to assemble, synthesize, and evaluate the quality and breadth of existing empirical research and highlight areas in need of further study. The review reveals a myriad of potential psychological risk factors associated with childhood animal cruelty, but highlights the decrease in publications on this topic over time and the lack of high-quality publications. Investigating the factors underlying cruel behavior toward animals has great implications for animal welfare and child wellbeing, and is vital for designing and implementing successful universal and targeted interventions to prevent cruelty to animals.

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