A teacher in Kentucky was recently fired for reporting animal abuse on school grounds to an outside agency. She was later reinstated when an independent tribunal determined that school officials were trying to sweep the incident under the rug and she had acted with the best of intentions. Teachers should not only be protected when they report animal abuse to the proper authorities, but they should be required to do so.
Teachers are required to report signs of child abuse. The same should be true when they have reason to believe children are abusing animals.
Animal cruelty perpetrated by children cannot be ignored. It can be an indicator of domestic violence in the home, as well as a warning sign for a litany of other violent and delinquent behaviors.
The American Humane Association has compiled research (pdf) showing the link between violent acts toward animals and violence toward people. Here's a sampling of the results that involve children:
- Children exposed to domestic violence were three times more likely to be cruel to animals than children from nonviolent households.
- In a Wisconsin study, 75 percent of battered women reported that pets had been abused in front of children. A New Jersey study found, in pet-owning families being investigated for child abuse, that one-third of the children had abused animals, using them as scapegoats for their anger.
- Sexually abused children were five times more likely to abuse animals, and 20 percent of children who sexually abused other children had histories of sexually abusing animals.
- The FBI identifies animal cruelty as one of the juvenile behaviors associated with increasingly violent behavior.
- Fifty percent of school shooters have histories of animal cruelty.
Teachers are on the front lines when it comes to observing behavior in children. It should be just as important for them to report signs of animal abuse as it is for them to get involved when there's evidence of domestic violence or any other crime, and they should be protected when they do so.
Photo credit: michale