This is a translation of a recent article in a popular Athenian newspaper. Below is my blog piece.
For the first time in the history of Greece, last week a 14 year old boy murdered his classmate using a knife. His father told the press that the boy had a history of torturing animals.
The incident was on the front page of every newspaper. The whole country was deeply shaken.
And like Cassandra who predicted the series of murders in the house of Atreus, but was not believed until it was too late, last November we educated the Hellenic Police on the cycle of violence. And while the police immediately understood, it took this tragedy for the public to believe it.
Now animal abuse will be seen in a completely different light: it is no longer just something boys do, but will now be understood as an expression of violence that doesn't stop there.
ARTICLE FROM ATHENS NEWSPAPER KATHIMERINI
Translation from the Greek by Kathryn A. Price
ANIMALS ARE USUALLY THE FIRST VICTIMS OF A VIOLENT INDIVIDUAL
The crime at Yefira in Thessaloniki which stunned public opinion brought to the front of the stage the invisible and exceptionally dangerous criminal behavior which is connected with the abuse and killing of animals.
The child-perpetrator of the horrible murder at Yefira in Thessaloniki, as was learned from many witnesses, had a striking past of killing and abuse of stray dogs, rabbits, and other animals; he shot a dog and then did not allow it to go outside his house. The local community was unable to see the danger hidden in this criminal behavior and did not report it to athorities. Furthermore, there are many people who mistakenly think that if someone kills or abuses an animal this act does not signal dangerous criminal behavior. However, detailed international studies and the experience of prosecuting authorities directly connect the abuse and killing of animals with violence within the family and commision of very serious crimes such as homicide and arson.
Wherever it exists, the experts say, the killing and abuse of animals is masking family violence, child abuse, and other existing criminal behavior, and is a warning sign of worse: in fact, for the manifestation of even more violent behavior. But let’s take a look at what scientific studies demonstrate:
71% of abused women have given evidence that in their immediate environment their spouses or other close relatives had abused animals, pets or strays, and also killed them. 85.4% of women who have suffered abuse and 63% of children who are victims of family violence have experienced within the home instances of animal abuse and killing. 32% of the victims of family violence, principally women, have declared that their children had committed acts of violence against animals. As well,of course, dog-fighting and extreme and dangerous behavior are connected, both scientifically and by the law, with the manifestation of very serious criminal behavior.
In many countries of the world, moreover, when an instance of animal abuse or killing is discovered, prosecuting authorities and the court immediately look for family violence and other criminal behavior. In our country, where animals are still viewed by many as “things,” the setting in place in recent years in Athens of a special prosecutor for their protection has been a step forward. The prosecutor for the protection of animals, Petroula Makri, works daily to put the law into effect, while, in recent years, police and judicial authorities have imposed maximum punishments upon those who abuse domestic animals or unlucky strays who live in their thousands in Greece, even in the face of the lack of interest which ditinguishes the majority.
Our body of laws, even considering its gaps, punishes criminal behavior against animals; however, it has not adequately realized the direct connection between animal abuse and serious crime and family violence. For this reason, the PanHellenic Animal Protection Confederation, along with the Ministry of Civil Protection, the EL.AS , and the MKO “Alliance for Greece,” invited to our country groups from the USA: specially trained police officers and prosecutors who took part in an all-day conference to impart information and to educate state officials so that they would learn that animal abuse and killing mask family violence and serious crime.
“The animal is usually the first victim,” declares the president of the PanHellenic Animal Protection Confederation, Irini Molfesi; “the abuse and killing of animals constitute the most basic indication of what will follow.”
Professor Dimitris Doukas from the University of Thessaly in his research leaves no room for any other interpretation, especially for teen-agers, such as the fourteen-year-old perpetrator at Yefira in Thessaloniki,. Young people who cruelly kill or abuse animals exhibit sumptoms of mental disturbance and serious antisocial behavior with the results that all this can bring. Animal abuse and killing, in other words, is the mask under which a great deal is hidden: serious criminal behavior as well as abuse and violence of every type.