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The development of a screening questionnaire for childhood cruelty to animals

journal contribution
posted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by E Guymer, David MellorDavid Mellor, E Luk, V Pearse
Childhood cruelty to animals may be a marker of poor prognosis amongst conduct disordered children. However, other than semistructured interviews with parents or children, there are no screening instruments for this behavior. The aim of this study was to develop such an instrument. In the first phase of the study, a parent-report questionnaire, Children's Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Animals (CABTA) was designed and piloted on 360 elementary school children, enabling community norms and a factor structure for the instrument to be derived. In the second phase, the questionnaire was completed by the parents of a small sample of children (N= 17) to establish its test-retest reliability. In the third phase of the study, the CABTA was completed by the parents of 19 children who had been diagnosed with either a Disruptive Behavioral Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and the results were compared with the outcome of a semistructured interview with parents regarding their child's behavior toward animals. The results of the various phases of the study indicated that the CABTA consists of two factors, Typical and Malicious Cruelty to animals, and is a reliable and valid tool for detecting childhood cruelty to animals. Possible use and adaptations of the CABTA as a screening instrument in clinical and community samples are discussed.



Journal of child psychology and psychiatry and allied disciplines






1057 - 1063


Cambridge University Press


Cambridge, England






Published Online: 8 Oct 2003

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2001, Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry