Children should grow up with animals as the relationship brings many rewards such as coping with feelings, managing oneself better and learning about responsibility.
Phillippa Denney, the head teacher at Kilby St Mary’s CofE Primary school near Leicester, UK believes that:
“Fewer and fewer children have the opportunity to have pets these days. It’s a luxury for many families. Both parents work and it’s a big time commitment having an animal, and some families struggle financially, some have phobias and allergies. Hardly any of them even seem to have hamsters but that’s a way to learn about responsibility and also grief. We’ve so much to learn from animals.”
I totally agree. It could almost be obligatory by law to look after a companion animal. The trouble is that the world is populated with people who are distinctly unsuited to the task and these people are invariable bad people. But babies aren’t born to abuse animals. It is a learned process.
Phillipa said what she said because she had invited an organisation, Stable Relationships, to her school to help fill the gap left by a lack of contact by her students to companion animals at home.
Stable Relationships arranged for three horses, Dolly, Lily and Bilbo, to visit the school. Stable Relationships was set up by a former teacher, Debbie Wolf. She said that horses were sensitive to emotions because in the wild they were prey animals. They were extremely sensitive to human emotions. The horses’ presence encouraged the young students to address tricky questions about their emotions.
Horses can detect if a person is presenting a calm exterior but feeling scared. They can pick up on human emotions.
In contact with horses, the children learn to control their behaviour and to avoid emotional outbursts.
Pets as Therapy, a charity, has been taking cats and dogs into hospitals, care homes and special needs schools since 1983. There are countless examples of animals including many cats providing a similar service to children and adults alike.
Children are particularly excited around animals and become involved – a good basis for learning. Animals have a lot to give to humans. We should respect them more.
P.S. Children raised with pets are healthier, research indicates.