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Children who are cruel to animals: a revisit
journal contributionposted on 1999-02-01, 00:00 authored by E S L Luk, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger, L Wong, J Mathai
Objective: There is a paucity of research regarding children who are cruel to animals (CTA). Previous studies have suggested that being CTA is linked with recurrent aggression in adulthood. In this report, children with persistent conduct problems who are CTA are examined. Method: A clinic-referred sample of 141 children and a community sample of 36 children between the ages of 5-12 were assessed using a test battery of questionnaires for parents, teachers and the child on mental health symptoms, self-perception, demographics and psychosocial factors. Forty of the clinic-referred children and one of the community group were rated by their parents as sometimes or definitely cruel to animals. The CTA, non-CTA and community samples were compared. Results: The CTA group had more conduct symptoms compared with the non-CTA group. However, the older CTA group unexpectedly reported a higher self-esteem compared with the non-CTA group. There was no significant difference between the two clinic-referred groups in gender, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and internalising symptoms, and psychosocial factors. Conclusion: Being CTA is possibly a marker of a subgroup of conduct disorder which has a poor prognosis.