Physicians Should Be Aware of Animal, Child Abuse Link

Children over 10 years of age who abuse an animal may be victims of child abuse

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THURSDAY, July 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A health professional presented with animal abuse by a child over 10 years of age should have increased concerns about abuse in the family, according to a review published online July 17 in the Archives of Disease of Childhood.

Richard Lee-Kelland and Fiona Finlay, both from St. Martins Hospital in Bath, U.K., conducted a literature review to better understand the link between child and animal abuse.

The researchers found that abuse of an animal that is perpetrated by an older child (>10 years) is more likely to be associated with child abuse. Compared with boys, animal abuse is less common in girls, but child abuse may be more likely in these cases. There have been some reports of a higher prevalence of animal abuse in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, developmental delay, and conduct disorder, but the relationship with child abuse is unknown in these cases.

"Information on both child and animal abuse needs to be shared between the veterinary, medical, and social care teams in order to protect both children and animals who are vulnerable," the authors write.

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