Experts Warn That Kids Who Torment Animals Often 'Graduate' to Fellow Humans
For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2014
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382
San Jose, Calif. – Following reports that three middle school students were arrested for allegedly killing at least one rabbit, a duck, and five chickens—who were reportedly beaten with blunt objects and thrown against walls at Wilcox High School—PETA’s educational division, TeachKind, is sending letters to local schools today offering to help them implement humane-education lessons. TeachKind is also rushing copies of its “Abuse: Report It If You See It” posters to each of the schools in the Santa Clara Unified School District 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 Santa Clara schools follows.
Dear Principal Stan Garber:
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 have heard from members of the Santa Clara community who have been deeply upset by reports that several middle school–aged youths are alleged to have killed a rabbit, a duck, and five chickens during a vandalism spree on the Wilcox High School campus last weekend. The animals, who were being used as part of a school project, were reportedly tortured, hit, and thrown against walls. Local officials are wisely taking this case seriously. As you may know, medical experts and top law-enforcement officials agree: The link between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence is undeniable. In fact, the FBI uses reports of animal abuse when 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 school shooters, “began” with animals, and animal abuse often coincides with domestic violence.
This incident is also one of many that have been reported to PETA in which animals used as class pets and school projects have been the target of abuse. When animals are kept at a school and potentially left unattended during nights and weekends, their needs are rarely met, and they are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Animals aren’t school projects or objects to be used—they’re living beings who can feel pain just like anyone else. For everyone’s sake, it’s important to teach children to know the difference.
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 California, we thank you for your consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.
TeachKind Coordinator, PETA