To the editor:
In response to the recent school shooting in Santee, Calif., Jerry Wells, the executive director of the Koch Crime Institute, wrote an excellent letter to the editor, which appeared March 11.
In that letter, he proposed that our schools develop action plans to help prevent such tragedies from occurring here in Lawrence. Part of his proposal involved an educational effort to "take any threat of violence in a school venue seriously..."
We would like to suggest that the schools and our community consider one very reliable predictor of violence toward human beings. That predictor is animal cruelty. In a study of criminals being held in federal penitentiaries, 25 percent of aggressive criminals admitted to committing at least five acts of animal cruelty as children. Nearly half of all serial killers have histories of animal abuse. Seventy-one percent of women who have been abused by their male partners reported that these men had hurt or killed a companion animal in the home. Many of the students involved in school shootings had histories of animal abuse. The FBI uses the history of animal cruelty as a marker for a potential killer.
Douglas County recently saw the remorseless killing of a group of Longhorn cows by two youths who were given very mild sentences. The trial of a man accused of brutally torturing and killing a cat will take place on June 13 in the Douglas County court. As a community, we need to send a message to our prosecutors, police and judges that animal cruelty is an extremely significant crime. Not only is it a tragedy for the defenseless animals, but it is also a loud and clear warning that these perpetrators lack empathy, have serious psychological problems and are telling us with their behavior that they are quite capable of violence toward human beings, including school children.
Twenty-seven states now consider animal cruelty a felony. This allows them to prosecute more severely. Missouri is one of those states. Kansas is not. As a community, we can help by being vigilant, report animal cruelty and by support strong legislation against animal cruelty.
Let us help create a more peaceful and compassionate world for the children, the animals and for us all.
Judy McCoy Carman,