Measurement of cruelty in children: The cruelty to animals inventory

Mark R. Dadds*, Clare Whiting, Paul Bunn, Jennifer A. Fraser, Juliana H. Charlson, Andrew Pirola-Merlo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Cruelty to animals may be a particularly pernicious aspect of problematic child development. Progress in understanding the development of the problem is limited due to the complex nature of cruelty as a construct, and limitations with current assessment measures. The Children and Animals Inventory (CAI) was developed as a brief self- and parent-report measure of F. R. Ascione's (1993) 9 parameters of cruelty. The CAI emerged as a reliable, stable, and readily utilized measure of cruelty using parent and child reports. Children (especially the older children) reported higher rates of cruelty than their parents and boys reported more cruelty than girls. Self- and parent-reports showed good convergence with independent observations of cruelty versus nurturance during free interactions with domestic animals. The results indicate that cruelty to animals can be reliably measured using brief child and parent report measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Child psychopathology
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Measurement


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