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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Turning Kids Into Killers

Written by PETA | February 24, 2009
wildlifedepartment / CC
Hopefully, young hunters such as this one will be banned from hunting in Pennsylvania.
Youth hunting

Last Friday, an 11-year-old Wampum, Pennsylvania, boy allegedly picked up his youth-model 20-gauge shotgun and shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend as she slept. The boy, Jordan Brown, had received the gun as a Christmas gift from his father, who was reportedly teaching the child to hunt in the woods surrounding their rural home.

This wouldn’t be the first time that a kid who had been schooled in the ways of snuffing out wildlife turned his gun on another human being—and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Remember 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden of Jonesboro, Arkansas? In 1998, they took the hunting guns belonging to Andrew’s grandfather—who had taught Andrew to hunt—and used them to ambush their fellow students, killing four girls and one teacher. In her book, Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, Katherine Newman writes that the young killers “dressed in camouflage clothing, exactly as Andrew did when he went hunting. … From across the field, their classmates and teachers seemed less like the human beings they went to school with than like quarry to be killed.”

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced the creation of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, “to encourage more young people to take up hunting to increase hunter numbers.” In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting, we’ve written to the governor of Pennsylvania, urging him to ban all hunting by children under the age of 18. You can read our letter here.

Not everyone who stalks and kills animals will stalk and kill a human. But every time a person picks up a gun, aims it at another living being, and fires, it must deaden a piece of his or her heart. Children have a natural affinity for animals, yet we hand them guns and teach them to be killers. Can we be surprised, then, when these children direct that violence at others?

Written by Paula Moore

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  • Dustin says:

    Vegancoin I suggest you look up the definition of murder before calling the killing of innocent animals “murder.” Murder is specifically directed at the killing of a human being. Humans are animals but animals are not human. In the same fundamental way that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. God gave the people dominion over animals in the first book of the Bible Genesis 12628 “And God said Let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image in the image of God created he him male and female created he them. And God blessed them and God said unto them Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Period. The thing that separates animals from humans is the power to reason both have instincts because both are animals but both are not able to reason this is why animals are not human. Can you please define the “Bubba Factor” apparently both of my college degrees are unable to comprehend what exactly the Bubba Factor is. murder mrdr Show Spelled Pronunciation murder Show IPA noun 1. Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S. special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime as robbery or arson firstdegree murder and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation seconddegree murder.

  • Derek, MD says:

    Christopher Adapting to and tolerating an omnivorous diet does not make humans any less of physiological vegetarians. Those in your line of thinking will say that the omnivorous physiology is well established while those of my way of thinking will promote the vegetarian physiology. We all have the chance to view evidence and I have chosen my side as there is clearly more evidence that our physiology is less adapted to eat animal based products than those of animals. That said I am glad you are still around in order to provide at least an intelligent counter argument.

  • Fitz says:

    Let me start by saying that I do not expect to change anyones opinion here. If fact if your views on huntingmurdering were swayed that easily I would most likely lose my respect for you. Im just simply explaining my view point. First in response to Why are there people who hunt or who think hunting is ok on a PETA website?? Well Im here because I like to know as much about someone with an opposing viewpoint as I can especially before I engage in a friendly or unfriendly I suppose debate with them. Id like to understand not only what you are thinking but more importantly why. Generalizations and absolutes. I feel that these typically are used by people that lack a certain maturity in their way of thinking. They older I get the less black and white the world becomes and the more prominent the infinite the shades of grey become A murderer is a Murderer. Period. On the surface it makes sense however the definition of any given word is subject to a persons personal views. For instance Corn is Corn. Period. Well I personally would argue that the vast majority of corn grown today does not qualify to me as corn. 200 bushel per acre corn that is mass produced and genetically altered to do so in order that it can be used in the making of the majority of our mass produced food stuffs ceases to be corn to me. I hunt and yes and I kill some animals but I dont see myself a murderer any more than a wolf dolphin seal polar bear house cat shark caveman Inuit or Ojibwa tribe. And if you feel these are all murderers then by your definition I guess I am. I would also argue that I have far more respect for the defenseless animals that I hunt that many nonhunters and hunters for that matter. The generalizations I see here are equally disturbing to me. The Bubba Factor those that hunt are less educated less intelligent etc. You have no more right to say these things about hunters than I have to say that ALL PETA members are left wing granola eating hybrid driving proabortion pot smoking Bush hating treehugging hippies. Im not trying to be condescending or offensive but I see a lot of these types of generalizations on both sides. There are extremes moderates and truth be told most of us are somewhere in between. For those of us that wish to have a mature openminded debate lets have it. I have much respect for you and I feel that debating will help all of us to further understand opposing views and maybe further define our own views. For those that will stick to insults and absolutes I encourage you to spend a week alone isolated in nature with the animals that most of us love I think that youll find their world is far more grey than black and white as well. Thank you for putting up with my long post! Cheers.

  • David says:

    What is the definition of murder? Since we are talking about it that is…I’ll just go ahead and state it as I found it. “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought” If we can agree that animals and humans are different than murder can not be classified as a human killing an animal it just doesn’t make sense. Now if the argument is that animals and humans are not different than the act of killing an animal would not be one of murder but of survival or sustenance. On the same thought if killing an animal is murder and animals and humans are indeed the same wouldn’t it then be safe to say that animals such as bears wolves sharks etc etc obvious carnivores should they not also be held accountable for the violent acts they themselves commit against humans and fellow animals alike. The fact is this murder is the violent act of taking another humans life since we have the ability and the responsibility of thinking rationally. True as it may be that hunters head to the woods with the prethought idea of killing the prey they are after most hunters do not go out into the woods with the plan to cause undo pain and mistreatment to such animals. Which is actually the point that is trying to made here that not all hunters commit violent acts against other humans. Here is an idea though instead of bickering back and forth about whether or not this kid was trained up in the ways of terrorism against the animal kingdom…maybe we should be offering the family our support and prayers because isn’t that what makes us human? The ability to love and care….hmmmmmm

  • Anja Cabral says:

    Why would you teach your child to hunt.Whatso he can be a man.It sickens me that people teach their children to hunt.These people have no compasion they are cold hearted.If you can kill an animal you can kill just about anything.I know someone whoes killed animals now they wonder what it would be like to kill a human.This all started with his father showing him how to hunt.What happened to showing your child how to be compasionate and respectful to all living things!

  • Kurt K says:

    Dustin Your statements made sense to me.

  • vegancoin says:

    “Hunters can’t be blamed for violent acts such as murder.” Dressing in camouflage taking a loaded deadly weapon usually a gun and hiding in the bushes andor a tree stand to shoot and kill a defenseless innocent creature is a violent act and yes it is murder. Plain and simple. So yes hunters can be blamed for violent acts such as murder. Get real. You were seeking to exclude hunters from the Bubba factor in your previous post citing the irrelevant and illogical point that most criminals that are in jail are probably not hunters. Even if that were true there is no way you could prove such a thing. Your insubtantial and nonexistent point that nunters are responsible stewards and wildlife managers who can only accomplish their aims at the end of a loaded weapon just doesn’t fly.

  • Dustin says:

    Vegancoin “Nonstarter if i ever saw one. 1 if you kill someone with a firearm then you have committed murder it matters not if the assailant is a hunter the outcome is the same for the victim. The vast majority of prison inmates are functionally illiterate and most score extremely low on diagnostic tests. This is no way excludes the Bubba factor.” You just proved my point. Hunters can’t be blamed for violent acts such as murder. You also just supported my point about the lack of education in offenders. And if the majority of inmates are nonhunters than that would mean that it’s not the hunters that are uneducated. Good Job.

  • Common Sense says:

    For those who compare killing an animal to killing a carrot… please realize that a carrot does not have a brain! When you “kill” a vegetable you are not causing suffering and pain for an innocent animal.

  • Gen says:

    A murderer is a murderer. Period. A murderer of life is a murderer. no need for explanations. save the saliva. shoot a living being with a gun murder.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    Derek the omnivorous physiology of humans is pretty well established. The ability of humans to eat a strict vegan diet is a modern technologic construct. Hunting is not as an effective a mangagement tool as we would like to believe. Most of this is because the reasons for overpopulation of deer have much less to do with predation as habitat alteration. A wolf is not likely to live in a city nor do you urbanites want her to. Deer rabbits geese etc. are quite happy in a suburb…no predators lots of food. Which also brings up the rampant lie that hunting actually encourages overpopulation. Habitat not hunting folks. As far as hunters being educated or not well that’s a habitat issue as well. As city people continue to send out their great pseudopods of urban sprawl land becomes more scarce and as a result valuable. Not just anyone can own land for hunting. So hunting is actually becoming more elite in America much like it is in Europe. The elite read the group who get’s to bail the country out in tax revenue TEND to be more educated so anectdotaly I imagine average education of the average upland game hunter that’s one of the things you can use a 20ga shotgun not a 22ga as no such gun exists is at least on par with the average peta member. Fortunately the NRA has 4 million and Peta is quite a bit smaller.

  • Bob/MO says:

    Sara the deer are overpopulated due to both the rapid decline of habitat and the absence of natural predators. Now hunting is absolutely necessary to reduce the population if hunters regulated by the conservation department are not allowed to keep the population under control the deer will die due to starvation or disease I have seen it firsthand. I am not sure whether or not you are correct in saying hunting is to blame for predators not in great enough numbers to impact the population if you didn’t just assume that please post where you obtained that information. Kelly I was deeply offended by your post please cite where you received the information in the study. To say that “hunters are the bottom of society” while there are sex offenders terrorists that caused the tragedy of 911 people in gangs that promote violence and serial killers just to name a few is simply wrong. But the thing I found most offending was this statement you made “And they don’t even have the ability to take care of their children.” My mother works 28 out of 30 days in a month self employed. My father works 12 hour days at Boeing. Now to me that is a prime example of love and care. They have never asked for a thing in return. You decide if “they don’t even have the ability to care for their children.” Gary thank you for standing up for your beliefs even though you realized that you would be disagreed with by almost everyone. Thank you for responsibly putting across your point of view.

  • Christina says:

    Im confused. Why are there people who hunt or who think hunting is ok on a PETA website?? Doesnt make alot of sense. Hunting is disgusting and cruel. There is nothing ok about it. Its even worse to teach a child to kill. Why would anyone want to instill violence in a child?? I am not saying that all people who hunt are evil people but I do think they need to stop and think about what they are really doing. This world is filled with enough violence. Also to Steve who compared a deer to a carrot…GET REAL. There is a big difference and its not remotely the same. You are on a PETA website its unlikely you find many people who agree with your warped logic. Hunters do not repect wildlife they destroy it…murder it…then possibly eat it or worse stuff it and hang on the wall.

  • Curly says:

    Most of my childhood my father spent time and time again trying to get me and my little brother to enjoy weapons! He luckily was only around once or twice a year so those moments were far and few inbetween. My mother was on the far other side of that desire and would immediately confiscate the said weapons minutes after we would return home from our father and we would never see them again. I turned out a animal loving family man much to my fathers shagrin. I am not a vegetarian or anything like that but I have begun to limit my meat choices based on what I know about where it comes from and how it was treated. Hunting isn’t bad it just must be introduced to a person at an age in which they can consciously realize that what they are hunting is for food not fun or sport. The sport of hunting for killings sake is what breeds children who hunt humans.

  • Susan Holmes says:

    To teach a young child to kill animals is totally inappropriate. We should be teaching children compassion and kindness towards animals.

  • Anna says:

    This is just wrong. We should be teaching children to love the animals who are just like humans instead of killing them.

  • vegancoin says:

    “Everyone “kills” every day in order to survive.” Wrong. This careless and hopelessy warped natualistic fallacy doesn’t wash. i guess the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. and your overgeneralization that all hunters are responsible wildlife managers and decent down to earth human beings is equally laughable.

  • Kitsuna says:

    hmm this reminds me of the Palin children! I honestly don’t get how someone can destroy the innocence of a child! lucky for me My will was too stong to be purswaded and I ended up turning our family into a murder free household! I can still remember the gun smellhorrors!

  • vegancoin says:

    “Another statistic that you may find interesting is that a grand majority nearly 80 of prison inmates that have been tried and convicted of either murder or homicide with a firearm never hunted in their entire life.” Nonstarter if i ever saw one. 1 if you kill someone with a firearm then you have committed murder it matters not if the assailant is a hunter the outcome is the same for the victim. The vast majority of prison inmates are functionally illiterate and most score extremely low on diagnostic tests. This is no way excludes the Bubba factor.

  • Steve Castleberry says:

    Hunting is a responsible wildlife management tool. The vast majority of hunters respect wildlife and indeed pay for the management and care of such animals by state game and fish departments. Life and death is simply a cycle that has always been in place. Everyone “kills” every day in order to survive. Whether you kill a deer or a carrot… everyone kills to live.

  • Derek, MD says:

    elena You are correct humans are “mean eaters” when they consume meat. Humans are not carnivorous or omnivorous by physiologic design. As far as everything else you said…honestly I have no idea what else you were trying to say.

  • elena says:

    i think that hunting is wrong but i mean if you think about it humans are mean eaters and i feel like if we are hunting to eat and ONLY to eat aka no for trophys then it should be ok as long as we doing it responibally and dont cause population inflation or depletion. and for all you “smart hunters” like … idk i dont really have that much respect. maybe if you were going to TOP scools your point would be clearer.

  • Sarah says:

    I just have a comment for Gary. I was just wondering if you know the reason for the overpopulation of deer. Well it’s because of hunters. They’re the ones that caused the overpopulation of deer because they’ve killled out all of the whitetailed deer’s predators which include wolves and bobcats. It’s the hunter’s fault and now you and all other hunters are making the problem worse. I think you need to listen to yourself and consult the SCIENTIFIC DATA before you go off and make some “claim”.

  • ANDRES says:

    Hey Gary dont feel yourself insulted. After all in this big blue planet we find all kinds of people of all colors you can imagine…there are smart hunters like you. There are also stupid barbarian heartless hunters…their existence is above all doubts….so shut up your mouth because you dont know what kind of people poor Kelly have to deal with..!! Shehe seen to have deal with the stupid kin of hunters…Shehe have no yet meet a brilliant Harvard degree hunter like you.And by the way how about a few classes of being humble…! You sound so arrogant when you say “Im the last can of CocaCola in the world…” So TAKE SIMON TAKE…!!!

  • Analyn Palugod says:

    I am a proud teacher of compassionate 2nd graders. Whenever an animal small insects wanders into our classroom all of the children want to be the ones to help put the animal back to its proper home outside. I have taught them using TeachKind and many of them are gentle to all LIVING things! It not only teaches them kindness for animals but for each other as well.

  • Dustin says:

    It’s very evident through census and compiled data that the majority of violent crimes occur in urban areas specifically those of low income. These areas also have the lowest percentage of outdoors people to be PC. This correlation would contradict directly with your accusations. Also per capita there are less educated collegiate people in urban areas and again there are fewer people in urban areas that enjoy the outdoors via hunting or fishing. This too contradicts of the uneducated violent hunter. Another statistic that you may find interesting is that a grand majority nearly 80 of prison inmates that have been tried and convicted of either murder or homicide with a firearm never hunted in their entire life. I also have interest in knowing how much money andtime the majority of antihunters spend for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration?

  • lynda downie says:

    Gary said “I was taught to hunt ethically and safely.” Thing is Gary many of us here don’t think hunting is ethical any more than we would killing human animals.

  • Saucy says:

    Hunters are bullies!

  • Sarah says:

    When I first heard this story the first thought that came to my mind was that this boy had been encouraged to hunt by his father. Why can’t everybody see that failing to teach children to be compassionate to all living creatures can lead to a tragedy such as this one?

  • vegancoin says:

    “Over and over again studies prove that those that hunt are less educated less intelligent. They are the bottom of society. And they don’t even have the ability to take care of their children.” The Bubba factor i agree. There is no real need for sustenance hunting in this day and age.

  • Gary says:

    Kelly and everyone else. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with your biased and opinionated claims. “Over and over again studies prove that those that hunt are less educated less intelligent.”…..”They are the bottom of society.” These are not factual claims they are your opinions. I have hunted since the age of 12. I was taught to hunt ethically and safely. If my actions put food on the table for my family who are you to judge me? Yes I could buy beef but why would I spend twice as much for meat that is not nearly as healthy as venison. Im gonna go out on a limb and assume that everyone here is a vegetarian. If you are I respect your opinions and would love to have a logical debate with you. If you do eat meat however I argue that your ethics are virtually nonexistent. After all you are simply hiring a hitman to do what you claim is completely unethical. To say that I am less intelligent is a downright insult. I think some of my classmates would disagree. I am a sophomore at The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. On my most recent test in Ecology out of the other 65 students in the class 0 scored higher 1 scored the same and 64 scored lower than me I know this because the university testing center sends us this information. If that is not enough for you to believe that I am intelligent then maybe my Dean’s list cumulative GPA 3.5+ will sway you. As to the letter to Governor Rendell the author is claiming a correlation between violent crimes and animal abuse on flawed data. “FBI interviews with murderers revealed that 36 percent had tortured and killed animals as children.” Ok well thats only 13. That means that 23 of the people surveyed did not harm animals but MURDERED human beings. This suggests that there is something else at play. Also in the letter the author writes “hunting disrupts animal migration and hibernation patterns and damages ecosystems.” I am not an expert on migration or hibernation patterns so I will refrain from commenting. However claiming that hunting damages ecosystems is merely demonstrating uneducated jargon. If hunting was banned for whitetail deer the habitat degradation that would occur would be catastrophic. If you don’t believe me I urge you to consult SCIENTIFIC DATA before you blindly ignore my claims. Millions of acres would be overbrowsed and thousands of species would suffer as a result of the habitat loss.

  • Matt Counts says:

    Alrite I have a problem with all of you right now. Kids that are taught to hunt are giving a huge responsibility and it makes them feel grown up. But if they are not taught the right way then yeah they will think grabbing a gun and bringing it to school is ok. Ive been hunting since i was six years old and all anyone ever told me when i had a gun was never point it at a person always pretend its a loaded gun. And always respect the gun your holding know about. And what do you know ive got a straight A’s in school ive never shot myself or anyone else. and plus most kids that shoot someone with a hunting gun either have bullies in school or arent treated right by their parents and dont care about anything

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    drew Dude even if one is against hunting wishing for the life of a human being to be killed is not the best way to get your message across.

  • Salogma says:

    Many people develop a respect for life when they learn how to take it properly for example knowing where that piece of flesh on your plate came from and knowing to eat less never waste any etc. But I do think that children under SIXTEEN should be banned from hunting. Shoot animals with a camera not with a gun

  • drew says:

    Keith there are various kinds of intelligence and certainly there have been notorious monsters that have been intelligent in certain ways but they were still monsters. Here is your failure You go to inflict upon other feeling beings that which you would not want done to you and apparently you are so deceived by seeing a different physical form or result of dna instead of seeing the feeling being like you that has to experience the evil agony you choose to go and force upon that being. You are just doing what you want to do with no care for what your actions do to another feeling being. Yes you truly are repugnant and stupid. You deserve the very same thing done to you.

  • Brien Comerford says:

    There is overwhelming data that verifies animal abusers also commit violent crimes against innocent people.

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    Kate Yeah I think I know what you mean. My uncle always had guns since was little but usually used them for skeet and other non PETA dissaproved means of entertainment. I think it comes down to locking up the fudging gun when it shouldn’t be used.

  • Anne says:

    “Over and over again studies prove that those that hunt are less educated less intelligent.” I’d like to use these studies in my own discussions with hunters.. Do you have any links? Or at least the names of the peopleorganization who did them?

  • Kate says:

    I’m not so sure. If kids aren’t alowed to hunt they may get anxious and do it illegally then dares may come up. It’s like drinking in countries that allow drinking as young kids are more responsable. If taught at a young age they can learn to respect a gun opossed to turning 18 getting a gun and then having no parent there to teach them how to be responsable with a gun.

  • Jackie says:

    It has been proven that one of the main signs of Sociopathy is an ability to harm animals. It’s not at all far off to think if a person can watch an animal die they could kill a human being. I saw an independent film off Netflix discussing some of history’s most controversial horror films. They had footage from films like Cannibal Holocaust which are infamous for showing real animal harm done on screen. They had a image of a lizard being cut and dying. The way it screamed it just was I can’t believe anyone can just sit back and watch that without being a sick S.O.B.

  • Donnie says:

    Agreed.I think we should keep our weapons out of the hands of children and stop killing animals for fun!I used to fish with my dadbut I stopped because I knew I was I hurting the poor little thing.BesidesI’d rather swim with them than kill them.

  • Keith says:

    In regard to Kelley’s comment about the study that those who hunt have a lower level of education and are less intelligent. I’m not sure if you are stating that hunting causes a lack of intelligence or how it causes a lack of parental obligations to their children but if you are could you please explain. I’m not sure I understand. I began hunting at the age of twelve with my father and have since graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University spent ten years in the Marine Corps currently working on my Master’s degree in Mass Communications. Since the passing of my wife in 2004 I have been raising my five year old son on my own since he was ten months the nearest family that I have is 650 miles away in Pittsburgh also while working a fulltime job. So again could you explain how the two correlate. My brother graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy and then from Texas AM University and is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. My sister graduated from Westminster College and then graduated from law school from the University of Louisville. Both grew up hunting. Again Kelley please explain. All that I’m saying Kelley is that if you are going to make such a statement you need to find a clearer way to purvey your point.

  • nena says:

    omg iknow iam like a kid right know and i lke animals and everything but kids hunting for deer and animals WOW!!like holy cow i totally agree with pepsi one is fun person thats relly sad kids hunting dow deer i mean we r suppostu love nature and respect it not kill everything that has fur and moves!!!

  • John Erik Maynus says:

    I’ve always been against hunting hate it! Never understood why anyone would want to teach their child how to hunt. What’s it teach that that animal isn’t as good as them and that it doesn’t have a right to live? Every animal that gets killed also has a family a family that will miss and morn them.

  • shannon says:

    I think children should be taught how to shoot with a camera! Taking photos of wildlife is much more fulfilling and humane than picking up a shotgun and showing a child how to kill an animal. That’s not to say I’m opposed to children being taught how to use a firearm for selfdefense and general safety and responsibility. There’s a difference between shooting a defenseless animal and shooting to save yourself from a dangerous situation.

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    Shoot the hookers in Grand Theft Auto instead of animals. Its more entertaining and its easier of a scapegoat to blame for school shootings.

  • Laine Doss says:

    We have to get children when they are young to respect animals. I was in the Keys at a beautiful resprt hotel and I walked to the end of the pier. There was a father and son fishing on it. The son caught a fish and freaked out. The poor fish was fighting for his life and the boy was saying what do I do? I helped get the fish off the hook and put him in the water. The fish was stunned and he hust floated on the top of the water and the kid was yelling I killed him I killed him. Then the fish got his wind back and swam away. But I hope that kid took something away with him and will never fish or hunt again.

  • Aneliese says:

    I agree. Teaching children to hunt…shame on people who do that.

  • kelly says:

    Over and over again studies prove that those that hunt are less educated less intelligent. They are the bottom of society. And they don’t even have the ability to take care of their children.

  • Sarah says:

    I agree. Teaching children to kill means teaching children to kill. Period. We should rather teach our children nonviolence and compassion.