On Bipeds & Brutes

National Museum of Animals & Society Blog

Nat’l Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week

Sarah Trimmer, by Henry Howard (died 1847). Sa...

Image of Sarah Trimmer via Wikipedia

Continuing National Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week, we’re remembering those who connected the dots centuries ago, before there were formal studies and programs to address the cycle of abuse. These individuals were on to something. Consider that:

  • 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of cruelty towards animals.
  • 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% have committed violent crimes against people.
  • 63.3% of men who had committed crimes of aggression admitted to cruelty to animals.
  • 48% of rapists and 30% of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence.
  • 36% of assaultive women reported cruelty to animals while 0% of non-assaultive women did.
  • 25% of violent, incarcerated men reported higher rates of “substantial cruelty to animals” in childhood than a comparison group of non-incarcerated men (0%).
  • Men who abused animals were five times more likely to have been arrested for violence towards humans, four times more likely to have committed property crimes, and three times more likely to have records for drug and disorderly conduct offenses.*

Children’s author Sarah Trimmer (1741 – 1810) advocated nurturing in children kindheartedness to animals which she believed and hoped would develop into “universal benevolence” in their adulthood. Her most popular book, Fabulous Histories  (later known as The Story of the Robins), addressed this same topic. Published in 1786, it tells the story of two families, that of a robin family and a human family, who learn to harmoniously coexist. At the heart of its lesson, the human children (Harriet and Frederick) and baby robins (Robin, Dicky, Flapsy and Pecksy) learn the importance of embracing virtue and avoiding vices, echoing Trimmer’s Christian beliefs.

Sarah Trimmer was one of the most successful children’s writers of the day. The Story of the Robins was reprinted for 133+ years, well after the First World War, and greatly affected and influenced generations of readers and authors. She was one of the first in a line of humane texts for children. Lydia R. Bailey’s Julia and the Pet Lamb: Or Good Temper and Compassion Rewarded (1866) is a classic example of how humane literature continued on well into the next century. Humane literature of course exists today, but much of it is less religious in nature.

*Statistics provided by Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center.

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2 responses to “Nat’l Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week

  1. click here November 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm

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  2. Pingback: Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week | compassionatecarewaverly

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