Many people stereotype animal abusers as older people who are out of touch with current societal norms and who abuse animals in order to compensate for their diminishing power in the broader culture. However, it should be noted that there are animal abusers in all age groups. It should also be noted that animal abuse has not been tolerated on a societal level for a long time.
The modern vegan movement began in the 1940’s, and animal rights the way that it is known today had its roots in the nineteenth century. No one alive today remembers a time before animal rights, and socially sanctioned animal abuse is a thing of the past, just like the pillory. Older people never should use their age as an excuse for their harmful beliefs and in the case of animal abusers, that excuse would be neither ethical nor accurate.
However, focusing only on the older animal abusers obscures the multitudes of animal abusers that are young and able-bodied. People tend to also correlate the love of animals with the idealism of youth, which is a problematic belief in its own right. People should not and need not ‘grow out of’ their love of animals. It is also chillingly true that many of the young people who abuse animals do not ‘grow out of it’ themselves, so people cannot simply count on young animal abusers becoming reformed through only the simple passing of time.
Some of the young people who abuse animals will later be diagnosed as sociopaths, which are known today as people with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Young people who also have a history of behavioral problems and a history of bed-wetting past the age of twelve without an associated incontinence disorder may grow up to become violent murderers. While it is true that not all animal abusers are sociopaths or people who will later become sociopaths, the knowledge that someone harms animals is very disconcerting and should always be regarded as a red flag.