Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
19 January 2000 Issue

Bonnie Erbe on......PETA and Kids
Source: [email protected]

Bravo to PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The nation's most controversial and influential animal rights group (650,000 members strong) is venturing across the last frontier in its tireless campaign to raise public awareness about animal cruelty. The group's latest public relations salvo is the firing off of 100,000 teaching kits and videos to educators across the country, instructing the instructors on how to spot and stop animal cruelty. The more we find out about child cruelty to animals, the more intrinsically linked such behavior appears to be to violence against people perpetrated by older children and adults.

PETA Director Lisa Lange says there have been links between every recent perpetrator of mass school violence and animal cruelty. She quotes the Boston Globe as reporting that the two killers in Littleton, Colorado, bragged to their friends about animal torture. In May of 1998, a front page New York Times article described high school shoot-out meister and enfant terrible Kipland Kinkel, the perpetrator of last year's horrible Thurston High School blood-letting and murder of his own two parents in Oregon. The Times reported, "(Kipland frequently) talked of guns, bombs and torturing animals. In middle school, the yearbook named him, "Most Likely to Start World War III." "He was always talking about what he did to animals," said David Willis, a freshman who played with him on the football team at Thurston High School. "He would like torture animals and stuff and tell us about it."

But the federal and state response has been to mimic the Roman Emperor Nero and fiddle while the country burns. Even though the FBI and the American Psychiatric Association have both reported that animal cruelty is a key warning sign for future violence by young people, there is no federal program and there are few state laws that address this issue. Among the leaders: California recently passed a law requiring psychological counseling for anyone found guilty of animal cruelty and North Carolina recently became one of the first states to prosecute pig farm managers for felony (as opposed to the usual misdemeanor) cruelty to animals. That in a case where sows were being horribly beaten and one poor screaming pig had her leg sawed off "for fun" by farm workers.

PETA's goal is to help adults key in on troubled children and get them into counseling before they become the next Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. Their initiative also includes a mailing of brochures to more than 10,000 obstetricians and pediatricians in the hope that doctors will display them in their offices, warning parents and parents-to-be that cruelty to animals is not normal and should serve as an immediate sign of a severely troubled child.

PETA recently won a significant victory, when major manufacturer Procter & Gamble agreed to stop testing current products on animals. The company has yet to agree to stop testing future products on animals. But as PETA noted in a news release on P&G's agreement, "History is made in small steps, and this is one of them." Similarly, we are becoming a more enlightened society on the issue of animal cruelty. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for example, recently banned an annual pigeon shoot. The Chief Justice, in his opinion for the court, called the practice, "Cruel and moronic," signaling a zero tolerance approach on such acts of senseless barbarism.

We are definitely heading in the right direction. PETA is extremely instrumental in taking us there. But we have a long, long way ahead of us.

Go on to Deadly E.coli in Half of US Cattle
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