Dog’s death puts spotlight on ANIMAL ABUSE

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In SEGUIN, Texas, a Texas Lutheran University psychology professor said adolescents who engage in acts such as those alleged of three Guadalupe County boys in detention for reportedly torturing, beating to death and beheading a small dog have often themselves been victims of violence or seen shocking things they “act out” on an animal.

Psychology instructor and licensed psychological counselor Carolyn Turner said she could not speak to the specifics of the case of the three boys who Tuesday evening allegedly took a small dog to an abandoned house off Glenewinkel Road and tortured and killed it.

“I can’t blame anybody or draw any conclusions, but primarily, this is often an expression of rage or hostility. Sometimes it’s retaliatory. Usually it indicates children have seen something very disturbing,” Turner said. “They could have been exposed to something disturbing on the Internet. It could have been something at home or extreme peer-pressure.

“They could have inherited or acquired a mental illness somehow. But statistically, it’s fairly rare to see extreme abuse from persons who haven’t had some kind of experience or had abuse perpetrated upon themselves.

“Research shows this isn’t prevalent in the absence of learning, contributing home conditions or severe mental illnesses.”

And statistically, she said, children who have been abused are much more likely to become abusers themselves.

There isn’t that much research on the topic of animal abuse, Turner said. But animal abuse among children and adolescents usually falls into four categories.

“One is exploratory, what small children do,” Turner said. “Sometimes they’ll hurt animals when they’re small because they don’t know how the animals feel. They don’t understand cruelty at that age.”

Sometimes animal abuse is a matter of vengeance — they hurt an animal because it hurts other people, such as its owner. Sometimes, it’s “learned abuse,” Turner said.

“Children exposed to domestic violence or abuse in homes are more likely to act these out.”

An example, she said, was that women who put children in shelters report 30 percent also abused animals.

The final category is usually the worst, and it’s called psychopathological abuse, where the child has a personal problem or emotional disturbance they’re acting out on animals.

“They need to discharge their rage,” Turner said. “They need a target. It explains a part of their world.”

Assistant County Attorney Nan Udell, representing County Attorney Elizabeth Murray-Kolb, asked Judge Linda Z. Jones to order a psychological evaluation of the boys during the 10 days of detention she ordered for them Wednesday.

Murray-Kolb said she was very concerned about what the crime could portend for the boys’ future, even as she prepares to prosecute them in juvenile court for a crime she said “sickened” her.

“I’ve spoken with the psychologist who will perform the evaluation and we went over the type of information we need,” Murray-Kolb said. “We need an in depth assessment of these children, and in order to do that in this situation, the psychologist needs to know what questions to ask.”

The psychologist would not be permitted to ask questions about the event itself because that would violate the rights of the defendants by asking them to incriminate themselves. But Murray-Kolb said testing and assessment of whatever underlying conditions exist would not.

“They’re not allowed to ask them about this specific offense. The psychologist is going to be looking at the underlying issues these boys have. We need to know where this behavior could come from, why it was exhibited and how to treat it, if possible,” Murray-Kolb said. “Is there anything that can be done to change what’s happened to them? Why would they do this? How do we protect the public?”

A big concern, Murray-Kolb said, is that this kind of behavior has been exhibited early in life by some of the nation’s worst criminals.

Still, she said, in spite of the public outrage, it’s important to remember that the accused in this case are teens.

“Practically all, if not all serial killers, exhibit this behavior,” Murray-Kolb said. “But all children who exhibit it are not serial killers.”

At any rate, if one were to look for a silver lining in a terrible situation, Murray-Kolb said it might be that a small animal gave its life to draw attention to three boys with a serious problem before something worse could happen.

“Tobey’s little life could have saved others,” she said.

If adjudicated on the animal cruelty allegations, the boys could be placed on probation, ordered into treatment or lodged in a Texas Youth Commission facility. Animal cruelty resulting in death for an adult offender is a state jail felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Professor Tom Mijares Ph.D is a retired police officer who works at the Criminal Justice Center at Texas State University, San Marcos, He said regardless of any underlying issues, he believed the boys should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and if they’re found culpable, they should be similarly punished.

“I have to disagree with Father Flanagan that there are no bad boys,” Mijares said. “I’d say that they should be criminally prosecuted. Think of the victim. What I would be looking at is that down the road, this could produce a lot of trauma on her part. In light of what’s happened with Michael Vick, this sort of thing can’t go unanswered.”
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Thank you Ron Maloney and The Gazette~Enterprise
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There you have it Baby Boomers…These are not normal reactions. This could be the first step towards worse behavior…next time it might not be a beloved pet…it could be a child or even an elder person.

I hope they get the kind of help they need.

If you would like to see a post on who was involved…
http://thebabyboomerqueen.wordpress.com/2007/09/13/animal-crueltyboys-ages-12-14-and-16-chargeda-hideous-crime/
That would be where I would go…

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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