Animal welfare should be part of the school curriculum in the USA and UK. Countless times we are reminded that education is the key to improved animal welfare and in this instance I’m mainly focusing on the welfare of domestic animals and particularly the domestic cat.
In many homes, parents of children pass on what could only be described as poor information about how to take care of the family’s cat. Sometimes parents teach their children, either through deliberate teachings or simply by the child observing their parents, that animal abuse is acceptable. We don’t know how many or what percentage of parents mislead their children with respect animal welfare but it must be a significant number judging by the number of abandoned and unwanted domestic cats that there are in shelters. Also judging by the number of news stories about cat abuse. Perhaps the most common news story about the domestic, stray and feral cat concerns abuse and cruelty. Not infrequently children are involved and therefore we have to refer back to their parents as a possible cause of this deviant behaviour.
Therefore there is, I believe, a pressing need for animal welfare to be incorporated into school curricula. I don’t see a problem with this. It could simply be an hour lesson once a week or something like that. It would help to guide children in respecting animals and in the UK there is a wonderful piece of legislation which would guide the teachers and the people who write the curriculum and this is the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It summarises perfectly how to look after a domestic cat.
I would have thought that many teachers in America would agree with me. I’m sure that there are many teachers who would like to be involved in teaching animal welfare in America. Certainly, in the UK, in a survey, it was revealed that 83% of teachers would welcome animal welfare as part of the national curriculum. And 93% of respondents in the survey stated that they would teach animal welfare in the classroom if they had the time to do so.
For many years now it has been argued that encouraging children to respect and care for animals through appropriate teaching at school will result in them becoming more responsible and compassionate towards animals. When they become adults they can pass that information onto their children and in this way it may be possible to break the cycle of misinformation and sometimes animal abuse in some households.
In the UK, the RSPCA’s former education manager Claire Morris said:
“We urge the government to consider integrating animal welfare into our children’s education as a matter of urgency – as skills such as empathy, compassion and social consciousness have value as a child goes through the education system as well as when they enter adulthood in the world of work.”
The RSPCA have already created 93 lesson plans for teachers concerning animal welfare.
I did a search on the school curriculum for California, USA and was unable to find any reference to lessons on animal welfare. I may have simply missed the information but I don’t believe animal welfare is part of California’s school curriculum. California appears to be one of the more advanced states with respect animal welfare compared to some others, but still no sign of animal welfare being taught at school as part of the syllabus.
What do you think about integrating animal welfare into school curricula? I don’t think anybody could reasonably be against it. There is no downside to it. It would teach people to respect others as well as animals and be more aware and sensitive towards others. There is a need I believe today for people to be more sensitive towards others as I sense that there is a gradual deterioration in the awareness of others’ needs. The world appears to be more selfish perhaps because it is more competitive.