PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The 15-year-old boy caught on tape viciously abusing a defenceless puppy may be suffering from conduct disorder, said psychiatrist Datuk Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran, who is deputy president of the Malaysian Mental Health Association.
"If he has a history of violating rules and defying adults, is a habitual truant with problems at homes, and has no remorse for bullying and in fact deriving some sort of pleasure from it as shown in the video, then this may be a classic case of conduct disorder," he told The Star.
"Generally, those with conduct disorder have some form of impairment in social or academic arenas," he added.
Conduct disorder can carry on into adulthood, becoming anti-social personality disorder, and sufferers often become involved in drugs and crime, Dr Mohanraj said.
"I strongly recommend that he is given a psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible. Conduct disorder can be controlled and sufferers can undergo counselling. But if it is left unchecked, one may develop an anti-social personality as an adult - and that is when the person becomes dangerous to society."
Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better founder Wani Muthiah said the authorities had to take the child to task as he would be an adult in just a few years, and preventive measures must be taken.
"He is 15 and not five. Therefore, the authorities must impose a deterrent sentence - detention after school and perhaps police supervision for two years."
She said that if indeed the boy's family circumstances were not conducive to his development, he must be removed and placed in a government-run facility.
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan said that people should not jump to the boy's defence due to his home life without proper evidence.
"I don't think anyone is truly qualified to make an assessment of the boy as yet. It's the job of his defence counsel, not the job of animal activists. The animal should be prioritised," she said.
Ms Shenaaz said that his background should not detract from his actions.
"If he doesn't pay for his crime, his future will be ruined. The Welfare Department should step in, get to the core of the matter - but that should come up in the trial. We shouldn't defend his actions at this juncture."
A video of the young boy swinging and throwing a puppy by its tail went viral earlier this week, after concerned Malaysians urged the authorities to take action.
The boy, who was identified as a student in Negri Sembilan, was arrested last Wednesday and released on bail.
The police are also working on identifying his accomplices, including whoever shot the 50-second video.