Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Society is looking for new tools and resources to employ in the efforts to combat violence, identify real or potential perpetrators at an early stage, and define actions that might predict or prevent violent behavior. Closer examination of cruelty to animals within the framework of family and societal violence offers an opportunity to explore violence outside of the traditional nature–nurture debate over the origins of aggression. Cruelty to animals represents an objectively definable behavior that occurs within a societal context. It also represents a good measure of the interaction between the behavior of which an individual is intrinsically capable and the behavior his or her environment has allowed or encouraged. The fact that the definition of cruelty to animals is so strongly influenced by cultures and subcultures need not be a complication but rather an opportunity to unravel the many influences that can shape violent behavior. Closer analysis of the connections between cruelty to animals and other forms of violence offers new opportunities for the study of violence and the hope for new insights and solutions.