Connection of child abuse and animal cruelty UPSC NOTE

 Issue of child abuse in India

  • Child abuse is grave and rampant in India. 

  • In 2007, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development published the largest empirical study about the incidence of child abuse in India.

  • The study specifically examined the prevalence of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and girl child neglect in India. 

  • It found that two out of every three children were physically abused. 

  • Over half the children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, and every second child reported facing emotional abuse

  • Despite these troubling statistics, the factors contributing to child abuse remain unaddressed.

  • Child abuse in India has been attributed to the structure and size of the family, lack of effective implementation of law, poverty, illiteracy, and even cultural factors

  • However, one crucial element that has been missing from the discourse on child protection in India is the link between victims of child abuse and animal cruelty, which we discuss here.

Connection of child abuse and animal cruelty

  • The link between animal cruelty and human violence first came to light in 1751 with William Hogarth’s Four Stages of Cruelty

  • Since then, there have been a plethora of studies highlighting this undeniable link

  • A 1980 pilot study conducted in England found evidence that suggested that children are at risk of abuse or neglect in households that abuse their family pet

  • According to the study, out of the 23 families that had a history of animal abuse, 83% had been identified by human social service agencies as having children at risk of abuse or neglect

  • A different study of 53 families in which child abuse had occurred, carried out in New Jersey (U.S.), in 1983, found that animal abuse and child abuse co-occurred in 88% of the cases.

  • In a 2019 study on homes with interpersonal violence in the U.S., it was found that in 12.3% of the cases, threats and violence towards animals are used as a means to coerce children into compliance so that they do not report the abuser. 

  • As per the study, since animals are threatened to result in compliance of the child, some of this violence is done without the knowledge of other caregivers, and children are reluctant to discuss the animal abuse for fear of what might happen to the animal or themselves.

Importance of reporting and prosecuting cases of animal cruelty

  • In many cases, animal abuse is easier to detect than child abuse .

  • It is also usually easier for victims of domestic violence (including children) to report. 

  • Early identifications of homes with animal abuse may save other human victims encountering abuse. 

  • This can also serve as circumstantial evidence in custody and child abuse hearings as it is difficult for children to provide detailed accounts of their own abuse.

  • There is a strong link between animal cruelty and child abuse and there is an urgent need to investigate it further in the Indian context

  • Even though law enforcement agencies in other countries have devoted resources to studying the co-occurrence of animal cruelty with other forms of violent crimes, especially crimes against children, there is no study that empirically assesses this link in India.

  • In fact, the National Crime Records Bureau does not even collect data on offences registered and prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

  • As studies in other countries have shown, the collection and aggregation of this data can prove to be a significant tool for law enforcement agencies to understand how different crimes overlap, and prevent the occurrence of these crimes.

  • Poor enforcement of anti-cruelty laws therefore not only harms animals, but also human victims of violence. 

  • Reporting animal abuse and consistently enforcing anti-cruelty laws can act as a deterrent for further acts of violence against not only animals but also humans

  • It is therefore imperative to report, register and prosecute cases involving animal cruelty.

  • The link shows us that both human and animal victims of crime are prone to victimisation by the same perpetrator. 

  • There is an opportunity for stakeholders in the child protection and animal protection movements to collaborate to meet their collective objective of reducing abuse.

  • Reporting and prosecuting animal abuse is not just about saving animals.

  • it is about protecting our children from violence and securing a brighter future for them. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Connection of child abuse and animal cruelty UPSC NOTE
Connection of child abuse and animal cruelty UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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