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Psychologist digs into why teens abuse animals

Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 18:29:59-05

A high school student is in trouble after he abused a cat and filmed the whole incident.

Lee County Sheriff deputies investigated a tip when a fellow classmate came forward about the video. The Mariner High School freshman is accused of throwing a cat 30 feet into the air in order for it to come crashing down to the pavement.

"No way to justify these actions," said Dr. Steven Cohen, a psychologist in Fort Myers. "For people to think it's funny or to even engage in it without any sense of wrong. How do you undo that," he added.

4 In Your Corner took concerns of teens filming animal abuse to Dr. Cohen. He says animal abuse can be a sign of a psychological disorder and can be nearly impossible to cure if left untreated.

"It's really unfortunate," said Dr. Cohen. "It's something we don't have a lot of success really in treating or teaching people to have empathy or compassion. They either have it or they don't," he added.

Dr. Cohen says there's a pattern to be on the lookout for. Cruel behavior or torturous acts like cutting off a lizard's tail could be an early warning sign. Often times the abuse could escalate and target other young children.

"Kids will make excuses for it," said Dr. Cohen. "We are good at trying to believe them because we don't like to think someone can do this stuff on purpose," he added.

Dr. Cohen says another red flag for parents and guardians is to look at the emotional state the child is in. If the child is in full control, that's more concerning than the child acting out in rage. This important deal can help get the person early treatment.

"The earlier you can pick up on those signs the better the outcome will be," said Dr. Cohen.