After a group of five children reportedly threw bleach at a dog and robbed the animal’s guardian, who was out on a stroll with her young daughter in Philadelphia, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—is offering empathy lessons to the district’s children.
The woman was walking her dog, aXurii, when five children reportedly threw bleach into aXurii’s face. In the ensuing chaos, the young perpetrators stole the woman’s AirPods and wallet. Although the woman and her daughter were physically unharmed, aXurii is struggling to see, apparently coughed up blood at one point, and has been experiencing a lack of appetite following the incident. The attackers are thought to be between 10 and 13 years of age.
In response, TeachKind is urging local school officials to accept free resources to help educators meet Pennsylvania state requirements for humane education and hopefully stop children from committing future acts of violence. The offer includes “Empathy Now,” a step-by-step, trauma-informed guide to preventing youth violence against animals; “Challenging Assumptions,” a program kit for high school students; and its “Share the World” program kit for young children. TeachKind also offered to host free, empathy-building virtual presentations for students in the district.
PETA previously urged the same district to take action after two minors encouraged two dogs to attack “Buddy the Cat” in March 2022.
Violence Towards Animals Is Often A Warning Sign
There’s a reason the FBI keeps track of cases of cruelty to animals and the organization Sandy Hook Promise included cruelty to animals on its list of the “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence.” It’s often a precursor to escalated levels of violence.
TeachKind notes that research shows that 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals, usually dogs or cats, and other studies have found that animal abuse is a better predictor of sexual assault than previous convictions for homicide, arson, or weapons offenses.
The recent attack of the dog in Philly is yet another sign that schools must foster empathy in classrooms and address the epidemic of youth violence against animals of all species.
TeachKind keeps an updated list of reported incidents in which young people have committed acts of cruelty to animals. It’s meant to illustrate how prevalent the problem is and provide educators with tools to teach students what it means to have compassion for all living, feeling beings. Early intervention is key to saving lives, and simply reporting an incident can make a difference.