There is no denying that schools do a wonderful job of teaching young people about how the world works and how to find their place in it. From maths and languages and science and geography, we all remember those early lessons that taught us to love learning. Children have a natural appetite for learning, so it makes sense to give them as much to grapple with then they are younger to ensure they grow up asking interesting questions about the world around them.
Animal welfare is one subject that would be welcome on many curriculums. While some might protest that animal welfare is a difficult subject that should be tackled by the child’s parents, others might argue that it is never too soon for children to be kind to all living things. Not only would this lead to an entire generation of people who care about animal welfare, but it could also spur on more children to choose careers with animals. Here are three reasons animal welfare should be taught in schools…
It will teach them compassion
We often learn some of our most important life lessons through stories, and in children’s books, the majority of the characters will be anthropomorphised animals. We can take this one step further by teaching them about how to be kind to real-life animals. Teaching young people about animal welfare is a great way to teach them compassion and empathy for all living things. Learning to be kind to animals leads naturally into lessons about being kind to everyone and can help children to develop an understanding of compassion.
If children learn about everything from responsible pet ownership to bigger animal welfare issues such as puppy farms, they will be able to make smarter choices when they are older and thinking about getting their own pets. They will also apply these lessons to their own pets at home and could teach their parents important lessons about keeping pets happy and healthy. A recent study found that children were more attached to their pets than their own siblings, so giving them all the skills they need to keep their pets happy should be a high priority.
It will encourage children to ask questions
Many children go through a phase where they want to go vegetarian because they have made the link between bacon and adorable pigs. This is often ignored as a childhood phase and parents will encourage their children to eat meat because the rest of the family is doing it. Children soon establish eating meat as a habit, rather than a choice.
Since there is no shortage of meat alternatives and people can lead a perfectly healthy life on a vegetarian, or even vegan diet, then this should be a choice. Teaching children about animal welfare in schools will help them to make this choice while surrounded by their peers. By learning to question their actions while surrounded by their peers, they will be empowered to take control of other aspects of their lives rather than simply following their parent’s lead.
It will teach them about different animal related careers
Young people love animals, and many young people will say they want to be a vet when they grow up. Unfortunately, many young people grow out of this without even exploring the full range of career options with animals. Careers with animals are highly rewarding, so by teaching young people about animal welfare in school, you could open up their eyes to a world of career possibilities. From training guard dogs to working for an animal charity, there’s no shortage of careers for animal lovers.
Teaching children about animal welfare should always be fun and it needs to be explained in a way they won’t distress the children, no matter what age they are. It should also be taught from a neutral standpoint, so as not to be seen as pushing a certain opinion on the children. Talking about things like vegetarianism can be very confusing for children, so it’s important to make sure they there is no right or wrong way to feel about the topic. Some people believe that animals should be bred for food, while others believe this is wrong. Presenting these two sides of the coin and letting young people discuss this topic is far better than trying to lecture or impose one opinion on them.
What areas of animal welfare do you think would be valuable to teach young people in schools?
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer and animal welfare enthusiast living in London. When she isn’t writing, you can find her volunteering at her local animal shelter or spending time with friends and family.