Watching hunting of any kind can psychologically scar children

Hunting deer
Hunting deer
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PETA has reminded me that the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued a landmark new directive (I believe this was last year, 2023) that children be protected from “exposure to violence, such as violence inflicted on animals.”

It is a formal recognition that children exposed to the hunting of animals can damage them psychologically. And I would like to put my hat into the ring here. Having written about trophy and sport hunting a lot on this website, I have seen lots of children and young people going out with their fathers and mothers to hunt deer in America. And they learn that hunting is okay. They learn that shooting animals for pleasure is perfectly acceptable. They don’t learn that they are causing pain. They don’t learn that they are killing a sentient being that feels pain and has emotions. They just learned that it’s fun to shoot animals because their father taught them. And I believe this is a form of indoctrination which is also form of psychological damage and of course this when these children are adults, they will pass on to their children the same standards of behaviour.

And it’s nice to know that PETA, in their inimitable way i.e. with great passion and conviction, have tried to extend this concept as formally recognised by the UN. They wrote a letter last year to the Prime Minister of the UK, Rishi Sunak, and they asked staunch animal protectionists, Ricky Gervais, Sir Mark Rylance and Twiggy to join them in writing to the Prime Minister to urge him to introduce legislation into the UK which would prohibit young people from participating in or witnessing hunting activities.

PETA say that they “are always violent and often psychologically scarring.”

Father teaches his boy the wrong things
Father teaches his boy the wrong things. Image: Twitter.

In the UK the classic form of hunting which is now prohibited is the hunting of foxes with hounds. The ban on hunting with hounds is still circumvented on occasions by unscrupulous hunters.

My mind turns to Prince Harry who said that he was blooded by having his head forced into the bloody carcass of an animal that he had shot by one of his friends. Both the King’s offspring, Harry and William have been involved in hunting including hunting game birds on one of their vast estates. They learnt that it was okay and they learnt the wrong thing.

And on the PETA website they say watching wildlife being “terrorised, shot down, or otherwise slaughtered is inarguably traumatic for children to witness. It can be psychologically scarring for young people, most of whom have a natural empathy for animals.”

Absolutely correct but fathers and mothers still put their children through it because in America hunting is very big.

PETA continue by saying that “Witnessing animals being killed for human entertainment can leave impressionable young people profoundly disturbed and desensitise them to animal suffering. It teaches children that the lives of others are not valuable and that it’s acceptable, even enjoyable, to inflict pain on and to amend them.”

We can do far better than this. We have to break the cycle of teaching children that it’s okay to shoot animals for pleasure. It’s astonishing to me that foxhunters can be so brutal towards foxes and have their dogs tear them limb from limb while young people watch on excitedly learning that is perfectly normal and acceptable.

RELATED: Sport hunting of African lions has weakened them by restricting their genetic diversity

Bing Copilot

I asked Bing’s Copilot (AI) the following question: When a child watches their father shoot dead a deer might that be psychologically damaging to the child? Here is their answer:

Yes, witnessing a parent shoot and kill an animal can have psychological effects on a child. Here are some considerations:

  1. Imprinting Kids to Kill Animals:
    • In some places, children are trained to kill animals in sanctioned events. While some kids enjoy these activities, others may feel conflicted.
    • Such experiences can imprint the idea that killing is acceptable and even desirable, potentially affecting a child’s view of life and empathy toward animals.
    • Long-term effects can be horrific and should be taken seriously.
  2. Depressive Reactions:
    • Witnessing violence, including animal killing, can lead to depressive reactions in children. These reactions may impact school performance, social interactions, and mental health.
  3. Disruption and Trauma:
    • The combination of traumatic experiences, loss, and disruption of routines can pose psychological challenges for children and families.
    • Exposure to violence, especially by a trusted figure like a parent, can be distressing and affect a child’s emotional well-being.
  4. Parental Behavior and Child Outcomes:
    • Research suggests that problematic parental traits (e.g., neuroticism, antisocial behavior) can contribute to inter-parental conflict and impact children’s well-being.
    • Witnessing violence or cruelty can shape a child’s understanding of acceptable behavior.

In summary, it’s essential to consider the potential impact on a child when exposing them to violence, including hunting and killing animals. Compassion, empathy, and age-appropriate discussions are crucial for their emotional development.

Sources: Psychology Today,, and more.

PETA has a petition. Please click here to go to it and sign it.

3 thoughts on “Watching hunting of any kind can psychologically scar children”

  1. Putting guns in children’s hands is stupid. My grandfather watched his second son die from a shot gun blast to the back, killed him instantly. 2 sons and 2 fathers out hunting dove 1940, the other boy 17 tripped as he go up. Arthur was only 15. Before the boy got up he should have opened the guns breach and wouldn’t have killed Arthur.

    • I’ll do an article on the number of accidental gun deaths in the US. I have read about kids in the back seat of cars with a loaded gun resting on the seat shoot their mothers through the front seat. It is all totally mad to me. The carelessness is unbelievable.

  2. Personally, I’d ban hunting lock stock and barrel. It is an activity of the past. The world needs to move on in a more humane direction.


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