Statement of the Problem : Bullying and Animal Cruelty: Is There a Connection?
Bullying and Animal Cruelty: Is There a Connection?
Statement of the Problem
Studying the connection between bullying and animal cruelty would identify and substantiate the co-occurrence of bullying and animal cruelty and support the effective development of effective interventions in the field of human services. The study seeks to contribute to the research gap in identifying the existence of a relationship and the nature or direction of relationship between bullying and animal cruelty with implications on counseling and other interventions.
Overview of the Research Topic
Animal cruelty is the anti-social behavior of intentionally causing pain, suffering or even the death of animals (Ascione, 1993). Bullying is the aggressive behavior involving the desire to inflict physical or mental injury, cause a power imbalance or use power unjustly, in a repetitive manner, with evident enjoyment on the part of the aggressor and a corresponding perception of oppression on the side of the victim (Rigby, 2002).
So far, research has focused on the link between these two behaviors because of co-occurrence, which requires specialized interventions. Frick et al. (1993) explained that these behaviors manifest in early childhood between the ages of 6 and 7 to indicate psychopathology. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) explained that these two comprise symptoms of conduct disorder. These studies directly investigated the relationship between bullying and animal cruelty. However, these studies were qualitative with the intention of describing this phenomenon by drawing accounts. These studies also utilized case study methods using observation and interviews.
Other studies focused solely on animal cruelty or bullying. Merz-Perez, Heide and Silverman (2000) found that cruelty to animals has a link to violent behavior during adulthood. Gleyzer, Felthouse and Holzer (2001) explained that children with a history of animal cruelty are likely to develop antisocial personality disorder when they reach adulthood. Henry (2004) found that animal cruelty manifesting during early childhood have links to delinquency or criminal behavior during adolescence or adulthood.
There are also studies linking bullying with other behavioral manifestations during adolescence or adulthood. Haynie et al. (2001) explained that bullying has a direct relationship with higher risks of anti-social behavior in adulthood. Hanish and Guerra, 2004 and Toblin et al. (2005) conducted a study on bullying and found that children exhibiting bullying behavior are also likely to experience poor academic performance, limited emotional relationships, and negative behavioral or relational outcomes. Viljoen, O'Neill and Sidhu (2005) found that individuals with history of bullying also engage in delinquent or criminal behavior during their adolescence or adulthood.
The results comprise a framework for the current study. The studies also have a number of implications in support of the current study. One is the similar occurrence of both these behaviors in early childhood. There could be similar factors arising during this stage that causes both bullying and animal cruelty. Another, there are similarities in the impact of bullying and cruelty behavior during adolescence or adulthood, particularly anti-social behavior, delinquent activities, and even crime. This means that if these childhood behaviors have similar impact to behavior of adolescents or adults with a history of these behaviors, then there is likely a relationship between the two but there is need to measure this relationship.
Significance of the Study in the Field of Human Services
Human services encompass planning, managing and providing health, educational, social and other service to the community. Bullying and animal cruelty are behaviors within the sphere of human services because these are problem experienced by the community, particularly in the case of families exhibiting symptoms of these behaviors and schools affected by these anti-social behaviors. In addition, the links to these behaviors to delinquency and crimes in adolescence or adulthood requires early intervention at the community level. However, existing interventions were for bullying or animal cruelty. Establishing the correlation between these two constructs would support the development of interventions for children exhibiting both behaviors or preventing children exhibiting one behavior or the other in developing the other behavior.
Significance in Meeting Research Gap
Existing studies show that there are only a limited number of studies directly investigating the relationship between bullying and animal cruelty. These studies were qualitative. While these provide insight into these behaviors, there is need to measure the relationship between these two constructs since the extent and nature of relationship would support effective intervention development.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (text revision) (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Ascione, F. R. (1993). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychopathology. Anthrozoös, 6(4), 226-247.
Frick, P. J., Lahey, B. B., Loeber, R., Tannenbaum, L., Van Horn, Y., Christ, M. A. G., et al. (1993). Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder: A meta-analytic review of factor analyses and cross-validation in a clinic sample. Clinical Psychology Review, 13, 319-340.
Gleyzer, R., Felthous, A. R., & Holzer, C. E. (2002). Animal cruelty and psychiatric disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 30(2), 257-265.
Hanish, L. D., & Guerra, N. G. (2004). Aggressive victims, passive victims, and bullies: Developmental continuity or developmental change? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 50(1), 17-38.
Haynie, D. L., Nansel, T., Eitel, P., Crump, A. D., Saylor, K., Yu, K., et al. (2001). Bullies, victims, and bully/victims: Distinct groups of at-risk youth. Journal of Early Adolescence, 21(1), 29-49.
Henry, B. C. (2004). The relationship between animal cruelty, delinquency, and attitudes toward the treatment of animals. Society and Animals, 12(3), 185-207.
Merz-Perez, L., Heide, K. M., & Silverman, I. J. (2001). Childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against humans. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(5), 556-573.
Rigby, K. (2002). New perspectives on bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Toblin, R. L., Schwartz, D., Hopmeyer Gorman, A., & Abou-ezzeddine, T. (2005). Social-cognitive and behavioral attributes of aggressive victims of bullying. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 329-346.
Viljoen, J. L., O'Neill, M. L., & Sidhu, A. (2005). Bullying behaviors in female and male adolescent offenders: Prevalence, types, and association with psychosocial adjustment. Aggressive Behavior, 00, 1-16.
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