Juvenile Animal Cruelty and Firesetting Behaviour

cover_cbmhBaglivio, Michael T., Kevin T. Wolff, Matt DeLisi, Michael G. Vaughn, and Alex R. Piquero (2014). Juvenile Animal Cruelty and Firesetting Behaviour. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, Forthcoming.

The current study assesses the prevalence, co-occurence and correlates of animal cruelty and firesetting behavior among juvenile delinquents. Using data on nearly 300,000 juvenile offenders from Florida, rare events logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between a host of youth-level characteristics and offending behavior. The prevalence of animal cruelty was 0.59%, accounting for 1732 young people, and of firesetting 1.56% (n = 4553). The co-occurrence of these behaviours was rare: 0.17% (n = 498), but approximately twice that expected by chance based on the prevalence of each behaviour individually (0.59% × 1.56% = 0.009%). Rates were higher in males, older youths and Whites. Among historical variables, criminal history was the strongest correlate, followed by mental health problems, then familial and individual indicators.