Sunday, April 1, 2012

Teen cruelty to animals 'disturbing'

Animal cruelty is rife among teenagers, a new study shows, with about 10 per cent of males admitting to feeding animals drugs or alcohol, burning them or poisoning them.

A survey of 133 teenagers by Massey University masters student Rochelle Connell found that more than half of teenagers in her study had committed acts of animal cruelty. Among teenaged boys that figure rose to 75 per cent.

One third of the boys reported beating or kicking animals and one third admitted throwing stones at them.

In the "free-response" part of the survey one 16-year-old boy said he shot a sheep with a BB gun because it "rammed his leg".

"I put my pet cat in the freezer for several hours. I felt really good," another 17-year-old said.

Connell said there were few responses that indicated severe abuse but that was contradicted by the other part of the survey, where significant percentages admitted to types of cruelty.

Among males, 12 per cent said they had poisoned or given alcohol or drugs to animals, 10 per cent said they had burned or dropped an animal off something and 8 per cent said they had drowned or strangled animals.

Most attributed it to hunting or fishing or punishment, but 14 per cent said it was "enjoyment".

The study's tests also confirmed the link between violence towards animals and verbal and physical aggression, particularly in males.

Save Animals From Exploitation head Hans Kriek said the figures were "pretty disturbing".

New Zealand's hunting and fishing culture encouraged experimentation with weapons, he said.

But as an SPCA inspector he had found that "sadistic" cruelty was rare, and he suggested the numbers could be higher than the national average because the sample was taken from Wairarapa schools, which had more rural students.

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