Latest news

Fellow Contributes to Special Issue of Criminology Journal on Animal Abuse

24th June 2011

Centre Fellow, Professor Clifton P. Flynn has contributed to a double issue titled “Animal Abuse and Criminology” of Crime, Law and Social Change — the first time a criminology journal has devoted a special issue to this topic.

Titled “Examining the Links between Animal Abuse and Human Violence”, Dr Flynn summarizes the empirical literature on the connections between animal abuse and various forms of human violence – including child abuse, woman-battering, bullying, juvenile delinquency, and other forms of criminality. He goes on to critically assess the empirical research, both methodologically and theoretically, for the more specific version of “the link” –  what has been called the progression thesis or graduation hypothesis –  that individuals who abuse animals, typically in childhood, move on to subsequent violence against humans.

Dr Flynn, who is Chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Women’s Studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate, discusses the issues and challenges facing future research in this area, and suggests potentially fruitful avenues for exploration, including trying to identify more specific pathways and relationships between violence to animals and humans, as well as expanding the scope of research to include legal and institutional animal abuse and its connection to criminality. Dr Flynn also encourages scholars to adopt a less anthropocentric, more “inclusive criminology of animals and animal abuse, where animals are seen as worthy of moral consideration, where their victimization, similar to other oppressed groups, is seen as social and systemic, not just individual and pathological, and where animal abuse is deserving of attention on its own—not just because of its connection to violence against people.”

He concludes:

Animal abuse – whether as a marker of violence in families, a precursor or indicator of  other forms of criminality, or as an act of violence against innocent nonhuman victims – provides an excellent opportunity in criminology for empirical investigation, theory development, and the practical application of research findings to social policy. The fruit of this scholarly labor may help lead to a safer and less violent world for all of its inhabitants – human and animal.

The journal is published by Springer and the co-editors of the special issue are: Piers Beirne (University of Southern Maine) and Jennifer Maher (University of Glamorgan). The article can be viewed here.