Kindness to Animals

safeandcaring

Humane education is an approach to instruction that infuses the curriculum with concern for all living creatures. It is not limited to instruction on animal care (though that is included), nor is it a separate subject. It is taught when teachers model respect and reinforce knowledge, skills and attitudes that demonstrate responsibility, kindness and caring.

Humane Education values the inter-dependence of all living things. Respect, responsibility and compassion for both animals and people are at its heart. Humane educators do not regard animals as more important than people, but believe that showing kindness to animals and having empathy for people go hand-in-hand.

Childhood is a time when one’s character is being formed, and humane education can help students to do the following:

  • Consider the needs, feelings and suffering of all living things
  • Understand what it means to be human by examining out relationships to other creatures
  • Consider the effects of their own actions
  • Reflect on the world and their place within it.

Humane education is premised on the belief that children raised to be kind to animals will also show compassion to people. Research has shown that there is a demonstrated link between cruelty to animals and other violent behaviours.

Many adults who commit violent crimes have a history of childhood cruelty to animals, and many children who abuse animals have themselves been abused. Numerous studies show that there are correlations between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse.

Teachers can become aware of warning signs of violence by paying attention to students’ behaviours in relation to animals. Discussions about pets or the presence of an animal in the classroom will occasionally prompt unsettling disclosures from students, who may find it easier to report abuse of an animal than abuse of a family member or themselves.

Not all actions against animals are intentionally abusive. Sometimes a student’s natural curiosity can unwittingly harm an animal. Regardless, any action that causes harm to an animal, whether intentional or unintentional, requires an appropriate response.

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