Experts Warn That Kids Who Torment Animals Often 'Graduate' to Fellow Humans
For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2014
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382
Davidson County, N.C. – Following reports that 18-year-old Davidson County resident William Luke McDowell was arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals for allegedly beating a nesting duck to death with a baseball bat—and that a younger teenager was also charged for allegedly videotaping the incident, which was reportedly posted on social media—PETA’s educational division, TeachKind, is taking action. The group sent letters to local schools this morning offering to help implement humane-education lessons and to rush copies of its “Abuse: Report It If You See It” posters to each of the schools in the Davidson County and Lexington school districts, including in Winston-Salem, in the hope of preventing similar incidents.
The posters show a chained, cowering dog next to insulting phrases such as “Shut Up,” “Stupid,” and “Dumb Dog” and goes on to explain the link between animal abuse and violence directed toward humans, concluding with the words “Bullies Are Cowards—Don’t Be Afraid to Report Them.”
“People of any age who harm animals are a threat to society,” says PETA Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind’s lessons and posters urge kids to go to their parents, their teachers, or the police to report cruelty to animals the moment it occurs—for everyone’s sake.”
For more information, please visit TeachKind.org.
TeachKind’s letter to the schools follows.
Dear Principal Travis Taylor:
My name is Nina, and I’m writing from TeachKind, PETA’s humane-education division. We work with hundreds of teachers nationwide to bring compassion to the classroom. We’ve heard from Davidson County residents who are deeply upset by the recent news of William Luke McDowell, an 18-year-old student in Lexington, who is accused of beating a nesting duck to death with a baseball bat while his 16-year-old friend filmed the incident—which was subsequently posted on social-media sites. Thankfully, it appears that law-enforcement officials are taking this case seriously, and both McDowell and his accomplice have reportedly been charged—McDowell with felony cruelty to animals—for this violent crime. As you may know, experts in psychiatric medicine and law enforcement have long acknowledged the link between cruelty to animals and other forms of violence. The FBI uses reports of animal abuse while gauging the threat potential of suspected and known criminals, and the American Psychiatric Association identifies it as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders. Many serial murderers, including most school shooters, “began” by abusing animals. There is also an undeniable connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence may kill, harm, or threaten animals to terrorize their victims and demonstrate what could happen to them.
The prevention of violence can start in the classroom if students are taught to have empathy for all beings. Might you consider incorporating humane education into your curriculum? That way, you’d have a chance to reach kids before they ever lash out violently. TeachKind is here to help! I would love to send your school a free anti-violence poster from our youth division, peta2. The poster encourages students to report cruelty to animals whenever they discover it, for everyone’s sake—and displaying it in a prominent location could help save a life. Our staff is always available to send free materials, suggest free lesson plans from TeachKind.org, and even visit your school to host free classroom presentations. We’re here to assist you in any way that we can in order to ensure that your efforts to teach kindness are successful.
On behalf of our more than 3 million members and supporters globally, thousands of whom proudly reside in North Carolina, we thank you for your consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.
TeachKind Coordinator, PETA