Thursday, October 8, 2009

RSPCA Awareness Week Day 7: Humane Education and Breaking the Cycle of Violence

RSPCA Education Officer Stephanie Sok with students from Ashmont Public School

The RSPCA run a free Humane Education Program for kindergarten, primary and high schools. Our mission is to positively change students’ behaviour and attitudes towards animals through interesting, informative and eye-opening lessons. We hope that these lessons will inspire and encourage students to make kind, informed choices about the way they treat animals and each other.

The RSPCA feel that it is crucial for children of all ages to learn to respect animals and also to understand that they feel pain just like humans do. Research has shown that animal abuse does not happen in isolation but that there is a link between violence towards animals and violence towards people. We as educators are obliged to try and stop this cycle of violence and give students the tools to make better choices for animals.

This is where the FREE RSPCA Humane Education Program can help.

The duration of each lesson is 30 minutes; we come to you and teach classes of up to 30 students in the comfort of their own classroom. We can visit one class or we can take the time to visit every class in the school! Each school also receives an All Creatures Club resource pack which contains curriculum linked lesson sequences, information and a CD ROM for K-6 students.

What RSPCA Humane Education offers:
• Kindy/Early Stage 1 (ES1) – ‘Prevent a bite’ Program

Allows children to learn the correct way to approach dogs and help us to reduce the risk of dog bites. Curriculum link: Play It Safe PDHPE

• Year 1 & 2/ Stage 1 (S1) – Max Pack

With the help of our plush toy dog Max we teach students the role of the RSPCA in our society and the skills needed to be a responsible pet owner. Curriculum link: Workers in the community HSIE; The need for shelter HSIE; Getting along with others PDHPE.

• Year 3 & 4/Stage 2 (S2) – Cat Tales

Because cats are an easy target for cruelty, this lesson aims to encourage positive attitudes towards cats through an exciting and interesting journey through time; looking at cats in history and their amazing adaptations. We discuss important welfare issues and together with the students create a humane home environment for all animals. Curriculum link: Building my network PDHPE; Living in communities HSIE.

• Year 5 & 6/ Stage 3 (S3) – Playing my part

Students learn about the RSPCA as a charity and its role in the community. Through investigating some local animal cruelty cases and an international case study, students reflect on their own role in the community as a responsible citizen and also think about the part they can play from a global perspective. Curriculum link: Playing my part PDHPE; Current Issues HSIE.

Secondary School Humane Education - Breaking the Cycle of Violence

The RSPCA Humane Education Department has reached over 60 000 primary students in NSW. Due to the success of the program and ongoing support from the University of Sydney, we would like to extend our education to secondary schools with our important humane messages.

As a Teacher or Parent, Why Should I be Concerned About Animal Cruelty?

Because of the link between animal cruelty and violence. Animal abuse does not happen in isolation. It is part of a far bigger problem of violence in society. Research suggests there is a link between animal abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and aggressive, anti-social behaviour.

Animal cruelty is often a sign of serious psychological distress. It can indicate that a youth has either experienced violence first hand or is at risk of becoming violent towards people. Research shows that most
serial killers had, as youths, killed or tortured animals. We must recognise that youths who deliberately abuse animals or talk about animal abuse in the home, are crying out for help. For youths living with domestic violence, family pets are extremely important and they can develop intense relationships with them – these
relationships can either be positive or negative.

Teaching youths empathy for animals has shown an increase in empathy for humans.

How can I help break the cycle of abuse?

· The RSPCA can help teachers break the cycle of violence through humane education at schools.
· Humane education should be an integral part of every school program.
· Teachers can educate others about the connection between animal cruelty and other violent crimes, including child abuse.
· Teaching by example is a teacher’s most powerful tool. Showing your respect and kindness towards animals models appropriate behaviour for students.
For further information about this program, or to make a booking, please call our Humane Education Department on 02 9770 7555 or email:

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