Until effective preventive measures are discovered, it may be counterproductive to predict future violence in children who mistreat animals, only some of whom will later show such behaviour. Such a prediction is likely to confirm for them, their parents and teachers a belief in their own future dangerousness and may set up a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One other point needs to be made: it is not true that violence in childhood and later life inevitably points to a disturbed upbringing. There are constitutional factors, rare but important, which can result in aggressive and antisocial behaviour in children from harmonious homes.
Dr SULA WOLFF