Editorial

Do Children Confide in Pets, not Peers?

The UK’s emotional bond with its pets may be even deeper than believed. Children with turmoil in their lives are more likely to speak to pets than siblings, suggests new research from Matt Cassels of Cambridge University.

The postgraduate psychiatry researcher based his findings on a 10 year study of 100 families within the UK. Children were tracked from the age of two and conclusions based upon 12-year-olds’ pet ownership.

Matt Cassels concluded that children facing emotional issues such as ‘bereavement, divorce, instability and illness’ consider their pets important, reported the BBC. He said ‘These children not only turn to their pets for support when faced with adversity, they do so even more than they turn to their siblings’.

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The research also implied that children’s relationships with pets are stronger than those within their own peer group. Cassels suggested that pets act as listeners and, for girls with dogs in particular, this encouraged ‘helping, sharing, and co-operating’.

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