My nephews ages 4,5,8 have killed a kitten... (details removed by moderator). they will not admit to one person doing it. They all blame each other. I do know they were all present when the kitten was killed. I am very disturbed by this so I can only imagine what it has done to their tiny developing minds. They have a bad home life. Very emotionally abused by mother and father,unsanitary and dirty house, no schedules, only yelling as discipline, they have no proper nutrition guidelines. I am very scarred for them. My sister doesn't seem to be taking the situation seriously. I am scarred for them to be alone with my 13 month old daughter and my dog, even them selves. What do I do?
You have every reason to be disturbed by what your three nephews did, as well as what they continue to be exposed to. You also have every reason to not allow your daughter and dog to be unsupervised around your nephews.
Since your sister and her husband show limited ability to properly care for her children, please consider contacting Child Protective Services. Tell them about the boys killing the kitten and the concerns you have for them. CPS will investigate and will help the children and parents get the services they need. You can make an anonymous report.
If you would like to speak with a counselor, please call or e-mail our Hotline. We are here 24/7 for parents and children of all ages, in all situations.
Take care and thanks again for reaching out!
Boys Town National Hotline
I am very troubled by your nephews' actions, and I believe that you are right to feel upset and scared by their behavior.
As you may know, cruelty to animals by a child is consistently linked with violent crime later in life. A 1997 study completed by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University found that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people than individuals without a history of animal cruelty. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Allen Brantley was quoted as saying "Animal cruelty... is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this is a warning sign..."
Children who are cruel to animals typically come from emotionally and physically abusive homes. They act out their anger and aggression on animals because animals are generally vulnerable and helpless. The abuser experiences a sense of control that they typically do not have in other domains of their life. This control feels good and is gratifying.
What is most worrisome is that cruelty to animals exhibits a lack of empathy for the feelings and well-being of others. Some experts go as far as to say it marks the beginning signs of a lack of conscience. This is very, very serious and it is critical that your sister begin to treat it as such.
I encourage you to talk with your sister again about your concerns. Continue your research on the study of animal cruelty by children and share what you know. Let her know that, as you understand it, studies show that cruelty to animals by a child is a big risk factor for violent crime. She cannot ignore this any longer. Her sons need immediate professional help, and you can support her efforts.
If she agrees, you can direct her to a community mental health organization or seek support from the counselors at her nephews' school.
If she does not agree, I would encourage you to talk with a trusted professional in the community to help you with the next steps. These boys NEED professional support and if your sister is not convinced that she must act, you would do them a huge service by continuing to advocate for them. If you belong to a church or religious organization, you can speak with a trusted clergy member to get advice on next steps.
Alternatively, you can also reach out to someone at your nephews' school and make them aware of the situation. Please know that all school personnel are mandated reporters and if they hear of suspected child abuse, they MUST report it to the local Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services will most likely take the report very seriously and will visit your sister's home to investigate further. Their charter is to assure the safety and well-being of children.
And, lastly, I think that you should closely monitor your nephews when they are near or around your son or dog. They are not "bad" boys, but they do not know how to make good decisions at this point, and they are acting out some very painful emotional baggage.
So... That is a lot for you to digest and consider. Thank you for reaching out. Your instinct is correct. This is a very serious issue, and I hope that you get the support that you need to help your sister and nephews through this difficult time.
Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Education.com JustAsk Expert
I would call Child Protective Services NOW! I know you may struggle with calling them because you are related to the childen's Mother, but if the kids are in the environment you described, they DO NOT need to be there. If they came up with doing this to a harmless animal on their own, just think what they will come up with when they get older! Please get help for them!