MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - A 17-year-old boy faced a juvenile court Tuesday, arraigned on charges of animal cruelty, breaking and entering and tampering with evidence.
Authorities say last month, he and another teen boy stole a baby alpaca from a Madison Township farm and beat it with a board until it died.
"We always treat this behavior as a red flag, that something is going on with the child, and we should be concerned, it's not just boys will be boys," said Barbara Boat, PhD., a Child Psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
She says animal cruelty during childhood is a telltale sign of an abusive past growing up.
"Children who are exposed to domestic violence in the home, children who have been sexually abused or physically abused, may be more likely to harm animals," Boat said.
Boat has done extensive research on the connection between animal cruelty and children, and says the behavior is warning sign for continued violence in adulthood, and she says the teens involved need more than just jail time.
"We do know that the behavior that harms the animal is the same behavior that harms the human, so anytime we come across cruel behavior in any of our youth, it's terribly important that the child be assessed," Boat said.
Stacie Mullins, 22, is charged with complicity in the crimes. She is schedule for a court appearance on Wednesday.
The two teens remain in custody until their pre-trial hearing on March 11.