By Elisa Black-Taylor
It is very important that today’s young people show a respect for animals. Their attitudes today will shape the world of tomorrow. So when we see kids disrespecting the cat or any animal in any context it is a cause for concern. Unhappily, we have an example.
PETA decided to step in on November 16, 2012 to make a request for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to stop teaching science using mutilated cat cadavers.
I read about this case a few days ago on the national news, but it was too disturbing to write as it was so close to Thanksgiving. As it turns out, students from Newport High School in Newport Beach have been posting photos on Facebook of the dissected and mutilated cat cadavers they work with in science class.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), located in Washington, D.C. joined the debate last month when the pictures began to surface on Facebook showing students mocking the cats and making lewd comments on the photos. It showed a definite disrespect of the cats as the Newport High students posed making faces at the cats.
Here are two of the photos. Of course they are horrible but not that sharp so I think it is OK to post them here. I apologize if some visitors are upset.
Please note that these students also appear happy at the negative publicity this matter is bringing to Newport High School. They’re proud of themselves over this!
Physicians Committee attorney Leslie Rudloff contacted Facebook about the photos stating
“Often such callousness takes the form of posting photographs or videos in public, as if to brag about the abuse.”
It is fair to say that one or two students expressed a dislike for dissection of cats in class. Although these students did not criticize the behavior of these students.
Facebook has a Statement of Rights & Responsibility and Community Standards clause, which encourages members to report offensive photos.
The School’s Response
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District issued a statement that the students had acted inappropriately and had been counseled and disciplined. INAPPROPRIATELY! Statistics for school bullying are increasing at an alarming rate. Judging by the remarks these students are leaving on Facebook, they have a total lack of compassion. This goes a lot deeper than “inappropriate.”
One of the photos was obviously taken outside of a classroom setting (the lower, right picture above). It shows a young lady showing off the cat to what are probably her friends. Was she just carrying around this mutilated cat to show it off? What does this say about a teacher who would allow a dissected animal to leave the classroom? It indicates a lack of discipline.
An English teacher at the high school, Karen Coyle, is the one responsible for reporting this disgusting behavior and has been keeping an eye on the Facebook pages of the students involved. At least one of the photos has been removed.
The Wider Problem
The problem is much more widespread than just this one high school. Since investigating this matter, the Physicians Committee has found similar photos from other high schools on Facebook pages. This is a nationwide problem where animals are portrayed as a disposable object to be ridiculed by the science students.
There are conflicting reports as to how the science students are now being taught. P.E.T.A. issued the request to stop using mutilated cat bodies, but one source reported other animals are still being used in the science vivisection class. Newport-Mesa Unified School District president of the Board of Education told PCRM’s director of academic affairs in an email dated October 18 that
“the staff at Newport-Mesa Schools decided to eliminate animal dissection and use electronic means in its lessons.”
This leads me to question what their current science program is using to teach the class. In the UK dissection of animal cadavers is being phased out, incidentally.
I’m not sure which topic I find most disgusting. That the science department would allow the practice in the first place, or the fact the students are showing disrespect to the dead cats. Perhaps the latter encourages the former?
I remember science class back in the late 1970’s. We had to dissect frogs. If you refused, you failed the class. I’m not sure how objection to vivisection is handled in today’s classroom. One thing I’ve always found disturbing about dissection is the lack of interest in the students. By this I mean the class is obligatory even though a student might already know their life course won’t include science. Why make students dissect (and we were REQUIRED to do this back then) an animal when the student has decided to go into say journalism or business management? I know a rounded education is important. That’s just my personal opinion. I don’t see how cutting up a cat is going to help a student “balance the books” or write a news article.
I worry about the students of today who pose with these poor mutilated cats and then post the photos online. These are our future leaders. The next generation we’re training to lead this country. It seems to me this isn’t teaching them anything good about leadership or compassion.
I’m sorry for the pictures here, but they’re very necessary to show how horrible this situation is. Who should be held responsible for this? The students showing off for the camera, or the school district for how science is taught. Teachers, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do the readers here feel about this?