From Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
The use of animals for science classroom dissection is not only cruel and psychologically damaging, it is unnecessary for optimal science education. When we recently learned of a disturbing incident in southern California where students were allowed to abuse cats in class, PCRM’s scientific experts immediately contacted Newport-Mesa Unified School District administrators to demand an end to the practice and request counseling and reprimands for those involved. Working behind the scenes over the past few months, we pushed for the NMUSD to replace all animal dissections with excellent available interactive software programs in all district schools.
Yesterday, we learned from the president of the NMUSD Board of Education that “The staff at Newport-Mesa Schools decided to eliminate animal dissection and use electronic means in its lessons.” This is a victory that will have resounding positive effects on the students and staff, and will take us another step closer to ending the practice of classroom animal dissection altogether.
The current issue of Good Medicine, which went to press before we learned of this new development, has an article with more information about this incident...
Cat Dissection Brings Out Worst in California Students
Students at Newport Harbor High School in California openly mugged for photographs with dead cats, posted them on Facebook, and solicited comments from their friends in June 2012. The photographs were taken during a science class dissection that uses cats obtained from biological suppliers.
One or more children reportedly deposited a severed cat’s head in a student’s locker. A photograph of a cat’s decapitated head was also posted on Facebook. A detailed online conversation followed in which one student suggested, presumably jokingly, that she had killed her own cat. Other students joined in with other inappropriate comments.
PCRM wrote to the president of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education and asked that the students involved be referred for psychological evaluation, that the teacher be reprimanded and counseled, and that classroom activities involving animals be suspended.
PCRM also wrote to Facebook and requested the company remove any photographs or posts involving abuse, cruelty, or callousness toward animals in the future, in accordance with its graphic content policy, which states that “any inappropriately graphic content will be removed when found on the site. Sadistic displays of violence against people or animals, or depictions of sexual assault, are prohibited.”
The use of animals for science classroom dissection is not only cruel and psychologically damaging, it is unnecessary for optimal science education. In 2008, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association revised their position statements regarding the use of animals in the classroom to acknowledge the value and endorse the use of computer-based dissection programs for all levels of science education, and to encourage science teachers to be prepared to provide those programs. Earlier this year, the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society similarly revised its position statement.