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Journal Article


Walters GD, Noon A. J. Interpers. Violence 2015; 30(8): 1369-1386.


Kutztown University, PA, USA.


(Copyright © 2015, SAGE Publishing)






The purpose of this study was to determine whether childhood animal cruelty is primarily a feature of family context or of externalizing behavior. Twenty measures of family context and proactive (fearlessness) and reactive (disinhibition) externalizing behavior were correlated with the retrospective accounts of childhood animal cruelty provided by 1,354 adjudicated delinquents. A cross-sectional analysis revealed that all 20 family context, proactive externalizing, and reactive externalizing variables correlated significantly with animal cruelty. Prospective analyses showed that when the animal cruelty variable was included in a regression equation with the 10 family context variables (parental arguing and fighting, parental drug use, parental hostility, and parental knowledge and monitoring of offspring behavior) or in a regression equation with the five reactive externalizing variables (interpersonal hostility, secondary psychopathy, weak impulse control, weak suppression of aggression, and short time horizon), it continued to predict future violent and income (property + drug) offending. The animal cruelty variable no longer predicted offending, however, when included in a regression equation with the five proactive externalizing variables (early onset behavioral problems, primary psychopathy, moral disengagement, positive outcome expectancies for crime, and lack of consideration for others). These findings suggest that while animal cruelty correlates with a wide range of family context and externalizing variables, it may serve as a marker of violent and nonviolent offending by virtue of its position on the proactive subdimension of the externalizing spectrum.

Language: en


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