Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence Research Proposal

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Animal Abuse and Crime

Does cruelty to animals at an early age predict an adolescents' propensity of criminal behavior?

Recent academic literature indicates that a connection exists between animal cruelty as a child or adolescent and the tendency toward criminal behavior as an adult. An examination of these studies found them inadequate as a means to predict which child animal abusers are most likely to commit crimes as adults. The main problem found was a biased sample population consisting of only those that had committed crimes. This study will provide valuable information that will help to identify adolescents that are at-risk for the commission of crimes later in adulthood. It will use the factor of animal abuse as an adolescent and its usefulness as a predictor of crime in later life.

Does cruelty to animals at an early age predict an adolescents' propensity of criminal behavior?

Problem Statement, Theoretical Framework, and Research Questions

Problem Statement

Theoretical Framework

Hypothesis and Research Questions

Section 2: Literature Review

Battered Pets: Battered Family


Section 3: Selected Methodology

Study Design



Survey Instruments

Data Collection

Data Analysis

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Limitations and Validity Issues

Ethical Considerations

Section 4: Analysis and Justification of Study Methodology


Does cruelty to animals at an early age predict an adolescents' propensity of criminal behavior?

Section 1: Problem Statement, Theoretical Framework, and Research Questions

Problem Statement

Research Proposal on Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence Assignment

Recent literature has found a well-supported connection between those that abuse animals as young children or adolescents and a propensity towards criminal behavior as an adult. It is not believed that animal cruelty causes criminal behavior as an adult, but rather that animal cruelty as an adolescent is simply a symptom of larger underlying problems. This research will address the problem of animal cruelty as an adolescent and its use as a predictive tool for future criminal activity.

Studies located during this literature review retroactively tried to connect animal abuse to crimes already committed. This method suggests that a causal relationship exists, but it does not mean that animal abuse is predictive of future tendencies. As the studies found were conducted after a crime had been committed, a certain degree of population bias existed. There was a solid connection between the prison population and previous animal abuse. However, it is not known how many committed animal abuse in the past that were not represented in the prison population.

A predictive element is suggested between adolescents that commit abuse towards animals and criminals. The next step is to develop the ability to predict which adolescents that abuse animals are at risk for crime later in life. It is not known how useful animal cruelty is as a predictive tool. The goal of this research is to demonstrate the predictive ability to animal cruelty in predicting later criminal behavior.

This research will help to solve a problem that exists with using animal cruelty to predict which ones will commit crimes involving the adult justice system within 3-5 years of the survey. It will help to address the problem of whether the results obtained in studies regarding animal cruelty as adolescents can be used to predict future tendencies towards crime. However, unlike previous studies that used a population that had already committed crimes, this study will use a group that has abused animals, but that has not yet committed a crime.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this study derives from numerous studies that indicate that a connection exists between abusing animals as an adolescent and the tendency to commit crimes later in life. In the past, animal cruelty was not considered a particular cause for concern in adolescents. It was not an acceptable practice, but it was not considered a factor in future activities. However, numerous studies now indicate that animal cruelty may be more than what lies on the surface. Animal cruelty is now believed to have a positive correlation with future crime and the commission of a number of violent crimes later in life.

This research will explore the connection between animal abuse as adolescents and the ability to predict future criminal behavior. There are many studies to support connection between animal abuse and specific crimes. Evidence connecting present and past animal abuse with the tendency to batter women and children is so overwhelming that abusing animals is now considered one of the four major warning signs of domestic violence.

The problem in this field of study thus far, is that studies selected a group that were similar in some characteristic, such as imprisoned, victims of battery, or another factor. The study then tests for the presence of animal abuse in some manner. If animal abuse is found to be a common factor, then it is assumed that animal abuse is a predictor of that particular condition. However, a different methodology is needed, if one wishes to test the predictive nature of animal abuse in adolescents and the tendency towards crime, later in life. The proposed study will examine the topic of animal abuse in adolescence and its ability to serve as a predictive factor in criminal activity later in life.

Hypothesis and Research Questions

This research study will address a topic that has been examined by many studies in the past. However, it will use a different philosophy and test methodology with which to examine the issue. The proposed research will attempt to examine the following hypotheses.

H1: Males that abuse animals between the ages of 12 -15 years of age will have a significantly higher chance of committing a crime of a different type before the age of 18.

H2: The violence of the animal cruelty will be proportional to the chances for committing a crime before the age of 18.

H3: The type of act committed to the animal will be predictive of the nature of the crime that is committed before the age of 18.

H4: Males that do not abuse animals between the ages of 12-15-year of age will not be as likely to commit another crime before the age of 18.

In addition to these research hypotheses, several research questions will be used to learn as much as possible about the factors that lead to animal abuse and subsequent crime. The following research questions will help to add a deeper level of understanding to the research topic. Many of these will be addressed through specific questions in the research instrument.

What types of abuse are committed by adolescents?

Did children who abuse animals witness an adult committing a similar act earlier in life?

Is there a connection between animal abuse and self-esteem?

Do adolescents feel guilty about their actions?

Is the proportion of violence in the animal abuse connected to the level of violence in later crimes?

Do youth who abuse animals feel that they will be likely to commit some crime in the future?

How do they feel about animal abuse?

How often do they commit animal abuse?

Is the animal that they abuse a family pet, or is it one that is found wandering the neighborhood?

Has the adolescent ever gone so far as to kill an animal?

Does the adolescent derive any type of satisfaction from abusing the animal?

The hypotheses in this study will help to develop an understanding of the predictive nature of animal abuse and crime later in life. The research questions will help to explore various aspects of the abuse so that methods can be developed to help prevent adolescents that abuse animals from committing crimes in the future through counseling.

Section 2: Literature Review

In the past, anima; cruelty during childhood and adolescence was not regarded as a predictor future aggressive patterns. Only in recent years, have studies begun to emerge that suggest a link between childhood animal cruelty and antisocial acts, such as crime, aggression, or murder in later life. There is significant corroborating evidence to support this link. The following will examine the body of literature that supports the link between animal cruelty as a child and various undesirable acts during adulthood.

In the past, animal cruelty during childhood was not considered symptomatic of any particular disorder (Gleyzer, Felthous, & Holzer, 2002). There is little research on childhood animal behavior, as it was not considered a significant finding. However, it is not regarded associated with antisocial personality disorder (APD) (Gleyzer, Felthous, & Holzer, 2002). Animal cruelty during childhood demonstrated a positive correlation with APD, other antisocial traits, and multiple substance abuses (Gleyzer, Felthous, & Holzer, 2002). It was not found to have a correlation with mental retardation, psychotic disorders, or alcohol abuse.

In a recent study using an inmate population, a link was found between repeated acts of animal cruelty and repeated acts of violence towards humans (Tallichet & Hensley, 2004). This study found that the problem was worse in families where there were many siblings. Arluke, Levin, and Luke et al., (1999) differ in their findings. They found that childhood animal cruelty led to increased antisocial behaviors, but not necessarily violence towards humans. They found a connection between… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence.  (2009, March 13).  Retrieved June 6, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence."  13 March 2009.  Web.  6 June 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Animal Cruelty Early Signs of Violence."  March 13, 2009.  Accessed June 6, 2020.