The link between animal abuse and the abuse of spouses and partners, children, and the elderly is well established. In a violent household, companion animals are often victims of the very same abusive behaviors that also harm children, intimate partners, and vulnerable adults. The first person to identify a child in a dangerous situation may well be a law enforcement officer responding to an animal cruelty call. There is an urgent need for more complete information about these patterns so that child welfare agencies can understand how to intervene safely and effectively.
That is why Congress needs to pass HR 2808, the Child and Animal Abuse Detection and Reporting Act of 2019. Under this legislation, data collected from state child protection agencies under the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) could include information about animal abuse as a risk factor for child abuse. Weighing this additional factor would help identify opportunities to prevent both child and animal abuse or suggest when more specialized intervention is needed.
Under NCANDS, the Department of Health and Human Services compiles information from the states about the nearly 700,000 American children abused annually. Case reports include a variety of details--such as the type of abuse a child suffered or whether the caregiver had a substance abuse disorder--that help researchers and service providers better understand the factors associated with child abuse. Animal abuse, however, is one such known factor that currently is not considered.
Information collected under NCANDS has been used to determine, for example, that children whose families face multiple stressors are at a higher risk of being repeatedly referred to Child Protective Services, and that some types of maltreatment are more likely to recur than others. By tracking child abuse cases related to animal abuse as provided for under the Child and Animal Abuse Detection and Reporting Act of 2019, NCANDS would provide another valuable tool to help identify the need for prevention and intervention.
Please ask your US representative to cosponsor this simple yet far-reaching bill, which would yield information to help address both child abuse and animal cruelty. You can find prepared text and send your letter via AWI's Compassion Index website.
Be sure to share this alert with your family, friends, and colleagues, and thank you for taking time to speak on behalf of the animals!