Local Schools to Receive Empathy Curricula From PETA After Teens Set Opossum on Fire

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2024

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Manning, S.C.

Following reports that two young people were seen in a social media video setting an opossum on fire and kicking and stomping on the animal, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent Clarendon County School District Superintendent Shawn Johnson and Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley urgent letters today stressing the need for humane education. The group also sent kindness-to-animals educational materials, including Empathy Now, a guide to preventing violence by young people, and Challenging Assumptions, which helps students examine discrimination and other social justice issues. TeachKind is also sending the districts’ high schools copies of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassionby PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.

collage of AnimalKind cover and Teachkinds Empathy now cover

“When young people torture and kill an animal and gloat about it on social media, that’s a clear sign that humane education is sorely needed,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion can be cultivated, and TeachKind stands ready to help South Carolina schools teach their students that every sentient being deserves empathy and respect.”

Sandy Hook Promise includes cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list, and research shows that approximately 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to communities at large. TeachKind resources are easy to integrate into schools’ existing curricula to help prevent future violence.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. TeachKind offers free presentations, lessons, and other resources to help teachers add compassion to their curricula. For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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