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By Robert Price
Child abuse advocates and animal shelters and are working together this week for a common cause. They are promoting awareness about the fact that many acts of cruelty to animals eventually lead to abuse of children.
The Heartland Pet Connection is leading local efforts for Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness week.
Experts say there is a clear link between people who abuse animals and people who abuse children.
Awareness groups hope people start taking animal abuse more seriously. Stop it early they say, and you can prevent people from moving on to children.
Abuse centers say the correlation between violence to animals and children is a shocking reality.
“One mentality carries over to the other,” said Teri Johnson, Hastings Police Department. “If you treat your children that way, you most likely are going to treat an animal that way.”
“They do not hold that value of life, regardless of whether it is a human or an animal,” said Judy Priess, SASA Crisis Center.
And crime statistics bear this out.
“If you look at people who commit violent crimes, they are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people if they did against animals when younger.”
But it is not just physical abuse. Local law enforcement says they more often deal with cases of neglect.
“A lot of neglect is the attitude of ‘well, I am only gone for five minutes.’ You can not do that with a dog or a child. Anything could happen,” said Johnson.
Judy Priess of the SASA Crisis Center says acts of animal abuse start early in life and need to be addressed.
“We do not want them growing up like that,” said Priess. “We need to establish a connection that hurting an animal is just as bad as hurting a person. If we can stop that pattern, we can prevent a person from abusing animals as an adolescent to abusing human beings such as a child as an adult.”
For their part, the Heartland Pet Connection is working to spread awareness along with the new child abuse prevention group All the P.I.E.C.E.S.
This week they have put over a 1,000 pinwheels across Hastings - what they are calling the "Winds of Change" campaign.
Originally reported on KHAS TV.
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