A quarter of children have seen animal cruelty online: RSPCA calls for animal welfare lessons

Research commissioned by the RSPCA has revealed that 23% of 10-18-year-old kids have seen animal abuse on social media sites, and a further 3% have witnessed it first hand. The poll, carried out by Beautiful Insights, comes as the RSPCA received 5,000 reports annually of animal cruelty and neglect.

In response to these disturbing findings, the charity is launching Generation Kind, its biggest-ever education and preventione programme and has launched a petition, calling for animal welfare to be taught in schools. A separate poll by YouGov revealed that 78% of people say animal welfare should be on the curriculum.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “The number of children seeing animal abuse online is shocking – the current generation of children are witnessing horrifying animal cruelty and neglect through channels which simply didn’t exist for previous generations.

“The risk for children growing up in the 21st century is that frequent and casual exposure to animal abuse will desensitise them and may even make it seem acceptable. Animals need us now more than ever, and we want to grow a new generation of young people who care, who are informed and who want to do their best for animals.

“This is why we are launching Generation Kind – an ambitious education programme targeting school children, children in care, young offenders or those at risk of offending and other disadvantaged young people. Central to this is a new campaign to get animal welfare taught in all schools.”

Generation Kind comprises nine projects:

  • Paws4Change: This pairs up disadvantaged young people and traumatised dogs for a training course that educates young people about animal welfare, encourages empathy for animals and humans and teaches key skills. In return, it helps dogs recover from trauma through their care, attention and training.
  • Wild Things: Aimed at school children in deprived areas, young people who have been excluded from school, those out of employment or training, or from troubled families, Wild Things gives them an opportunity to engage with and understand animals and develop compassion and empathy for them.
  • Animal Care apprenticeships: This aims to capitalise on the enthusiasm for animals shown by many disadvantaged children who take part in our projects by offering them a chance to pursue this passion through an apprenticeship with us.
  • Compassionate Class: This is an education project aimed at 7-11-year-old children, featuring online videos and interactive content, to inspire compassion for animals through learning about their needs
  • Looked After Children: Our animal action days are aimed at children in care, to help them develop positive relationships with animals. The project teaches compassion and empathy.
  • Great Debates: This project encourages 11-14-year-olds to actively engage in animal welfare and think critically about issues concerning animals.
  • Teacher training: We run sessions for trainee teachers to help them shape young minds, so young people leave school knowing about the importance of kindness to animals and revolutionise attitudes and behaviour to protect the lives of countless animals in the future.
  • Breaking the chain: We train members of Youth Offending Teams to help them rehabilitate young people who have harmed animals. The projects teaches about the consequences of cruelty and promotes greater empathy for animals.
  • Volunteer Speakers: Our volunteer and inspectorate speakers go into schools, youth groups and clubs to teach children about the five welfare needs of animals and promote a better understanding of animals. We want to expand this to 150 speakers across the country.

Find out more about Generation Kind here and you can sign the RSPCA’s petition to get animal welfare taught in school here

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