School of Health in Social Science


This page provides details of our conferences and links to speakers' presentations.

The links between animal cruelty, adverse childhood experiences and human violence: Research and practice (September 2019) A co-hosted conference with the Scottish SPCA

Photograph of a girl hugging a dog

The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of intentional and unintentional animal cruelty, its connections with human-directed violence and child abuse, and how this can sometimes be a precursor to further crimes.

The event examined the ramifications of animal cruelty, and provided information on animal cruelty interventions as well as recognition of non-accidental injury in animals.

Those working in animal welfare and child health, social care and education learned about the importance of animal cruelty incidents, how reports of cruelty behaviour might play an important role in assessments of children experiencing difficulties, and how animal cruelty might relate to adverse childhood experiences, including domestic violence.

Professionals also heard about the Scottish SPCA’s Animal Guardians Programme, and the latest research being conducted by CAAR (Child, Adolescent and Animals Research) at the University of Edinburgh. The keynote was given by Phil Arkow, Coordinator of the National Link Coalition - the national resource centre on the link between animal abuse and human violence in the United States.


Photograph of Playfair Library, University of Edinburgh







Presentations by members of our team:


Professor Jo Williams 


Laura Wauthier (PhD student carrying out research with children participating in the Animal Guardians programme)




Human-animal interactions: human well-being and animal welfare (September 2018) A co-hosted conference with the Scottish SPCA

Photograph of a family with a dog in a forest

Internationally respected naturalist, conservationist, author, artist and broadcaster Simon King is well known for bringing people and nature together and gave the keynote speech. His work has encouraged the younger generation to experience wild animals in their natural habitat, which can be beneficial to their health and wellbeing. The conference brought together experts from across the UK to discuss the impact that wildlife, puppy farming, animal welfare education, domestic abuse and farming can have on both animals and people. The conference showcased research on human-animal interaction, demonstrating that the way humans interact with animals has an impact not only on animal welfare but also on human health and wellbeing. 

Whilst I understand the popular need to distinguish humans from other animals, it's important to acknowledge that we are just as much a part of the animal kingdom as any other organism. It is equally important to accept the degree of responsibility we have in affecting the lives of other animals with our decisions and actions, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and what we can do to modify our behaviour to ensure a sustainable and caring future for all

Simon King, OBE

Working collaboratively with the Scottish SPCA has allowed us to develop high quality internationally leading research that is translated into practice to support the people and animals of Scotland

Professor Jo Williams, University of Edinburgh


Photograph of Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA & Simon King, Naturalist & Wildlife Photographer
Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA & Simon King, Naturalist & Wildlife Photographer (keynote speaker).

Presentations by members of our team:


Professor Jo Williams, 'Human-animal interactions & caar'


Dr Janine Muldoon and Dr Roxanne Hawkins, 'Animal welfare education: what interventions work and for whom?' 


Laura Wauthier (caar, University of Edinburgh) and Susan Witton (Scottish SPCA), 'Animal Guardians'







Child-Animal Interaction Research Conference (CAIRC): Setting the UK research agenda (July, 2017)

The CAIRC 2017 programme cover with a photo of a boy holding a cat, helped by a woman

Caar's very first conference  that  brought together practitioners and researchers to discuss the wide-ranging issues surrounding interactions between children and animals.


Photograph of the screen at the beginning of the Child-Animal Interaction Research Conference, 2017