CHILDREN ABUSING ANIMALS,
IS THERE A CONNECTION?
Kindness is the quality or state of being gentle and considerate. To receive kindness and the ability to show kindness are both growth enhancing and soul cleansing.
Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking and talking about it. It is learned by feeling and practicing it. We need to be prepared to teach kindness, because it can be delayed due to abuse early in life. It can be suffocated under the weight of poverty, and it can be derailed by victimization later in life.
Empathy is the identification with and understanding of the perspectives, needs, and intentions of others. It is a building block of morality. It is the idea that people should treat others in the same way that they themselves would like to be treated. So empathy requires first of all that we comprehend the circumstances of someone else and second that we share the feelings that those circumstances provoke in him. Empathy involves our feeling another person’s pain in our heart.
Kindness and empathy go hand in hand. To enable compassionate action one must relate to the other person’s pain in our heart and then act with gentleness and consideration.
How children perceive their worth as a human being will affect how they treat others and how they treat themselves. A healthy sense of self-esteem is essential for a healthy life. Children with a background of abuse or neglect, where kindness and empathy are absent, often struggle to see any value in themselves. This brings me to the question, "How can we ever possibly expect a child to practice kindness and comprehend empathy if they have never experienced them?"
Bullies have to come from somewhere. Every decision made and every action a person takes is based on their present level of awareness. No two people have the same awareness. No two people have the same background and experiences. A bully is only aware of his/her own past experience and upbringing, and this is reflected in the behavior of that individual. Bullying is a learned behavior. If a child receives a healthy mental, physical and spiritual upbringing, is provided with authoritative direction and positive influence they will grow up free and strong and have no need to humiliate and hurt another person or animal.
Bullying is often a mask to cover up a deep hurt and feeling of inadequacy. With a false sense of entitlement comes the rationalization that the bully’s supposed superiority permits them to hurt someone they hold in contempt when in reality it is an excuse to put someone down so they can feel the euphoria of the ‘up’. The power created by this pseudo win is addicting. Only if that power is never attained or it is suffocated by kindness, empathy and understanding will bullying stop.
Bullies beget bullies and I was groomed by the best. I learned manipulation, brute force and sneakiness from my bully mother. Over the years my father mastered the art of invisibility. Through my mother’s deliberate hostile brutalization, rejection, humiliation and contempt for him, he ceased to spiritually exist, therefore she was my prominent guardian. I had no hope of fighting her any way that was genuinely effective at protecting myself. This kind of violation of one’s body creates a sense of helplessness, and, in the case of repeated physical abuse, hopelessness as well.
So what happens to one’s self-image when the person who is wronging you is a loved caregiver? Confusion happens. If my mother professes to love me but she is hitting, punching, or throwing me, it must mean that there is something that I am doing wrong, or, there is something terribly wrong with me at a very basic level. I am bad, weak, ineffective, and less than perfect.
Consequently, my mother’s behavior towards me taught me survival strategies instead of social skills. I created a persona of obnoxious superiority to cover up hurt and inadequacy and I became proficient with the ability to act the part of the wronged party. I took my contempt and frustrations out on those more vulnerable than myself ... my peers and animals. Had I ever been touched with kindness instead of a belt and not pounded with verbal abuse capable of dissolving my soul I would have had a very different life. If I hadn’t been treated like that I would never have grown up into that self-loathing, manipulative, sneaky, contemptuous, creature … and BEWARE the world is full of such individuals!
It wasn’t until I was drowning in the sludge of loneliness, addiction and self-hatred did I question suicide but I was too much of a coward to take my own life and somehow??? I knew this level of unhappiness was wrong. I looked once more at that brick wall and decided trying to bash my way through it over the years was futile and painful and JUST NOT WORKING for me! I finally took responsibility for myself and my actions. I rejected this pseudo creation that I had dragged all over the world in hope of finding some sort of answers and my own inner peace. I discarded my shroud of purulent behavior and stripped down to find out who I should have been had the circumstances been kinder. I took a reclusive, simpler lifestyle and set to work on dissecting and rebuilding my soul.
The truth of the matter is this learned bullying behavior not only damages and even may destroy the lives of their victims but if not treated and controlled will eventuate in self-loathing and the addictions that bring about the demise of the bully themselves.
We must be aware, that chances are, by the time a child enters the school system they are already groomed to be a potential bully, victim, bystander or defender. With the realization that wounded children from abusive homes are our future animal abusers and bullies we need to provide them with all the help they can get.
I believe that children deliberately abusing animals is a HUGE FLASHING RED LIGHT! If you observe this behavior PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE IT! There is a deeper underlying reason for this behavior and it must be explored. First and foremost the environment where these children are living must be investigated. If they are in an abusive situation these children (and their pets) must be removed and with the help of compassionate and educated people, they must experience kindness and be taught to comprehend empathy. When young people are subjected to kindness and understand pain and suffering, they will be able to apply these thoughts to their everyday life. They will learn to understand and respect each other’s rights and ALL living creatures will be protected from harm.
I believe many traditional anti-bullying programs have little impact because they focus on the negative actions that cause children anxiety. Animals are masterful teachers with great lessons for us. Through an understanding of cruelty toward animals, students are guided to a deeper understanding of cruelty toward each other. It’s documented that the effects of bullying can be significantly reduced by integrating kindness-based humane educational programs in schools.
As I research and explore this issue more I believe I have a lot to say on the matter of bullies...but alas the world does not want to see, hear or help them.
Bullied victims and their families are pulling together, former drug addicts, dog fighting owners, sex addicts, anorexics and bulimics are showing up everywhere repenting and promoting abstinence from all their 'diseases' and addictions. We celebrate the strength in their vulnerability and in turn they become our role models. I applaud them all but no-one as yet has purged the bullies from their closets of shame. There are not too many reformed bullies standing at podiums sprouting their stories and receiving adulation for the difficult process of their reform.
We are missing a vital element in a somewhat lopsided investigation. Bring the bullies out of hiding, put them into the spotlight, listen to their side, study their stories … and learn. Their leadership skills and power that was inappropriately used in the past can be great assets in learning and comprehending their former motives and actions. Only by understanding the role the bully plays in this tragic scenario will we ever hope to make some headway in this bullying pandemic.
Each bully’s story is different and I am not speaking or taking the responsibility for any one of them out there. I am not proud of having been a bully and can only hope my account of facts brings truth to this subject and can help repair some of the damage that we inflict upon ourselves and others.
I realize now, like the alcoholic, this is never going to go away. I did not choose to be a bully. I was created out of another’s pain and there is still some residual damage and hurt. I take it one day at a time and I must constantly acknowledge and live with the awareness of the demons that can surface anytime throughout any minute of every day of my life ..."
Excerpt from "Hello...my name is Margaret, and I am a bully." Morgana Faeroe..
I am often asked why I have such empathy concerning abused animals and not children. This is an untrue statement. I care about both. I am vocal about my concern for animal abuse because I believe if a child receives a healthy upbringing, is provided with authoritative direction, positive influence, and is taught to comprehend kindness and empathy, they will grow up free and strong and be able to make the right choices. They will have no need or desire to humiliate and hurt another person or animal.
Animals never have that ability. They are from birth put into a position of trusting human decision about their welfare. They have no choices.
Animals cannot speak for themselves. Every choice for their future will be and is made by man and therefore it is up to responsible people to speak and act on their behalf.
Humans threaten animal environments through industrial pollution, deforestation or residential development due to increasing population. They choose animal consumption for diet, fur for clothing, animal testing for cosmetics, and zoos and circuses for their entertainment, many without concern for animal suffering during production, slaughter, experimentation and exploitation.
People and creatures are not equal but our life force is and non-human beings should be treated humanely. They are sentient beings who experience pain and suffering.
No rational healthy human would do anything to an animal that causes it pain, suffering or premature death. Every human is capable of kindness. It is a choice. We have a moral obligation to protect all living things from human exploitation and abuse.