Animal abuse and exposure to interparental violence in Italy: assessing the cycle of Violence in youngsters.
Abuse against animals is an indicator of children’s maladjustment associated with domestic violence. This study empirically assesses the effects of exposure to interparental violence on animal abuse in 1,392 Italian youth aged 9 to 17. Results indicate that half of all youth ever abused animals, with boys more often involved than girls. Almost half of the whole sample has been exposed to violence by fathers against mothers or by mothers against fathers, with no gender differences. Results are in line with the social learning theory model, indicating that the strongest predicting variable for animal abuse is exposure to violence against animals by peers and by mothers. The only-exposed group is more negatively affected by parental violence against the animal; the abuse-exposed group is more negatively influenced by mothers’violence against animals and fathers. Results are critically discussed with a focus on plausible intervention strategies.