Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Chain of Abuse

What is wrong with people?
It’s become a familiar saying in my household when we watch any of the numerous newscasts or read the daily paper. I used to have an editor who put me on the “cops and courts” beat of the paper. “But,” he told me, “I want you to find the stories under the stories because if we simply cover a murder or a rape or a child beating, the public becomes numb to it.”
That may be a possibility for some people, but I don’t know many who could be numb to the story that has unfolded in Kansas City over the past four years of Precious Doe, a little girl we now know was Erica Green. The girl was beaten and decapitated and left in a garbage bag in the woods. It took four years for investigators to figure out she was Erica Green. Her mother gave birth to her in prison and she was by all accounts, raised by a loving grandmotherly figure who was a friend of her mothers.’ That is, until the mother and her boyfriend came to claim her. They brought her to Kansas City and the boyfriend beat and kicked Erica in the head. The pair left her lying on the floor for hours or even days until she died. In a sick twist, her mother also reportedly participated in vigils and handing out fliers when the community rallied to find justice.
Or how many people could become numb to the countless other stories of child abuse and animal abuse that are told each and every year? –The story of Scruffy, the Yorkshire Terrier who was beaten and burned alive, all while his torturers videotaped the abuse? Or the story of Maxx, a black Lab, whose throat was slashed allegedly because his owner dismissed the sexual advances of his killer? Or the dog in Missouri, who had multiple nails put into his head with a nail gun?
What does animal abuse have to do with child abuse, you ask? Some people say the abuse shouldn’t be considered on the same level. I disagree. Numerous studied have cited examples of killers who first “practiced” their crimes on innocent animals. Once they became bored with that, they escalated their crimes to humans. Luke Woodham, the Mississippi school shooter from 1997, first torture-killed a being he claimed to love-his little dog Sparkle. The horrible acts he perpetrated on Sparkle were documented in his diary. He labeled it his “first kill” and he considered it a test to see if he could actually carry out a murder. A few months later, he killed his mother and killed and wounded several others on a shooting rampage at his high school. The list of serial killers and people who have participated in multiple murders that was documented first to have tortured and killed animals is staggering.
So, what are Missouri and Kansas doing to curb the growing trend of violence against animals? Are they studying the link between animal and child abuse? Are they creating stiffer laws for animal abusers, which would include therapy for perpetrators to help stop the abuse before it escalates?
While Missouri has a felony animal abuse law, many prosecutors find the law so cumbersome and the test of whether the act was “deliberate,” that, as in the case of the dog and the nail gun (the dog survived), prosecutors will opt for the more lenient
misdemeanor charge. Meantime, some Missouri Legislators have been working hard to make it a felony to take photographs at animal production facilities (including puppy mills) without the owners’ permission. Missouri ranks #1 in the country for dog production and Kansas ranks #2. Many of these facilities are considered “Mills” and many are never closed down by state or U.S.D.A. authorities until animal lover organizations conduct undercover stings at the facilities.
In Kansas, one Legislator from Kansas City, Kansas, has tried for nearly 6 years now to get the “Scruffy Bill” passed so that animal cruelty would be a felony. His lobbying efforts had the greatest impact in the year following the Scruffy case in 1998, but his efforts have been continually blocked by the agriculture lobby.
It’s not known whether Erica Green’s mother or her now husband were cruel to animals before they brutally killed little Erica.
But both children and animals are the helpless in our society.
If we don’t do something to protect both, the violence and the unforgettable stories will continue.


Blogger Terri said...

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a link between animal abuse and child abuse. More and more of our children are being abused and/or brutally murdered. We hear it nearly every day on the news...another child missing, another child dead. All the while, animal abuse is rampant all over the country. There is a link - the question is, what do we do about it??

11:51 AM CDT  
Blogger hooper2 said...

I don't have much experience w/animal abuse, but as a former child social worker, I know the ONLY way to reduce this abuse is to provide adequate resources which today we do not do. Social workers are paid peanuts, may not have adequate training and are given caseloads of 30, 40, 50 families. These huge caseloads almost guarantee poor follow-up on suspected abuse as there isn't time! One wonders what it is going to take to get those in charge to start making children a priority.

4:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Barb said...

There is a link.To make much needed changes we must first understand WHY these people do these horrible things to children and animals.What is WRONG with people? The time to act is NOW.Waiting will only cause more pain and death.The culprits need as strict punishment as can be allowed.Everyone should be outraged,we can NEVER become numb to this situation,EVER.

5:20 AM CDT  
Blogger Janet said...

Those that feel there is no link between animal abuse and child abuse have their heads in the sand and refuse to see. The perpetrators of violent acts do need help. Our society has become one that does not want to get involved. We turn our heads and live in our own little fantasy world that everything is ok. STOP! Get involved if you see abuse going on do what you can to stop it. Write your legislators and scream for help in this area. Start petitions and lets get something done.

5:39 AM CDT  

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