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Old 11-04-2012, 11:51 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by gogo View Post
Regarding the comments about feeling sorry for the kid because of the parents, I don't get that. Just because you are young, is not a reason to find it enjoyable to hit animals.
All kids have to learn that others have feelings, or mature to the point of understanding that. Some kids are very empathic at an early age, but OTOH I've known kids as old as five or six who had an intellectual understanding that others hurt as they did, but they still didn't "get it" on an intuitive level. I wonder if they would have had that intellectual understanding down even that early, if their parents weren't pounding it into their heads on a regular basis.

The kids don't lack compassion -- when they can intellectually understand someone else hurts when whatever happens, they want to help and comfort -- but they lack empathy in the sense of intuitively understanding that "if that were me, it would hurt". Some kids really struggle to acquire that ability to put themselves in another person's place, let alone to recognize that animals feel pain as well.

OTOH, there are adults in my husband's family who still think it's funny their dad used to torture cats, and gleefully retell their various tales. They're old enough to know better, and on some level they do know better (they don't torture cats themselves), but the fact that they were raised that way absolutely has had a negative influence on their compassion and empathy. They may know it's wrong, but it's still an intellectual knowledge, even though they're adults.

So kids absolutely can be taught it is okay to hurt animals, and even encouraged to do so, by the parents. There does come a point when the child has enough information to figure that out on their own that harassing animals is wrong, but with some kids that happens a lot later than it does with others; if the parents don't step up to fill that gap, then absolutely it is the parents' fault. The parents are failing the child, and I feel sorry for those kids. If they're still that oblivious as adults, that's when I start thinking they need to step up and fill that gap their parents left.
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