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What drives people to be cruel to animals
This is a dark subject, but the article is good. It looks at the link between childhood cruelty to animals and later antisocial behavior. 
There is a link between cruelty to animals and later cruelty to animals and people. That cruelty can manifest itself as torture and murder. It is a serious issue that needs a lot of study.

The more we understand this cruelty,  the more we can find ways to change the outcome. There must be ways of intervening early enough to help someone and prevent  them from becoming a killer. Even intervening to prevent a child from growing up and abusing animals later is a big step. Every day I read articles about adults abusing animals. That abuse didn't just happen. There must have been roots of the behavior in earlier life. If we want to prevent animal abuse we need to stop it where it first starts. Maybe adults need to be more careful how they treat animals so children don't get the wrong message. Maybe we need to look around us and see what messages children are receiving about animals. It is something we should think about.
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Lack of concern for animals is, in some cases, passed down from parents to children - either by words, or deeds, or both. Just to take one appalling example: the annual dolphin slaughter at the Faroe Islands.

If you look at this website (caution: sensitive people should not look, due to graphic pictures of the dolphin slaughter), in the first photo one can clearly see parents leading their children - even toddlers! - to look at the freshly slaughtered dolphins. In such ways, children are taught that animal cruelty is "normal", even "good".

There are similar things in other countries. The worst example I can find is that of children being taken to bullfights. See:

Note this passage:

"Psychological effects

According to several scientists, witnessing a bullfight can lead to negative psychological effects on children. It can result in a trauma, and the weakening of the moral judgement and empathy. Another consequence is that children become accustomed to violence and can react apathetic when confronted with a violent incident."

These sick ways of looking at animal cruelty are passed down through the generations. Changing these attitudes is a long-term business, sadly.
Quote:These sick ways of looking at animal cruelty are passed down through the generations. Changing these attitudes is a long-term business, sadly.
This is it exactly. I am sure if we searched cultures around the world we would find numerous animal cruelty situations that are not only allowed, children are exposed to them.  Gadhimai and the various dog eating festivals  come to mind.  Everywhere children are exposed to cruelty to animals. They grow up damaged. They lack empathy towards others. It shouldn't  surprise us that there is so much animal cruelty and so much violence towards vulnerable people. Children are being taught not to feel for others. That is why animal cruelty happens all around us every day.

I think we need to look at our attitude towards animals and  find the acts of cruelty that we accept as normal.
People think nothing of killing mice and rats in cruel ways because we have labeled them as pests. If we would not leave food garbage around and seal our houses to keep mice and rats  out we would not have them around. Because we let them get in we feel we have the right to kill them in cruel ways.  People who are cruel to mice do not think they are guilty of cruelty because they have decided mice don't matter. Once we decide one species doesn't matter, it is easy to dismiss cruelty towards other species. It is a line we should never cross. 

The big acts of cruelty like bull fighting and the Faroe Islands whale killing are so much worse. Much more harm is done. Harm is still done when it is a little act of cruelty. Humans have decided to live with a certain level of cruelty. We need to find all acts of cruelty unacceptable and work from there to stop the big acts of cruelty. It is not surprising that there are so many serial killers. It looks like we have created them. They are a product of the cruelty to animals that we allow.
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