THE RSPCA is calling for animal welfare to be taught in schools after shocking statistics showed more than a fifth of children across the West Midlands had witnessed animal cruelty and neglect on social media.
The charity says it had 5,000 incidents reported to it each year with 500 in the region and 34 in Worcestershire alone.
Schoolchildren, aged between ten and 18, were being exposed online to images of horrific animal suffering in ways previous generations had not experienced.
In response the RSPCA is launching Generation Kind, its biggest ever education and prevention programme and has launched a petition calling for animal welfare to be taught in all schools.
Its research shows 80 per cent of people in the West Midlands say animal welfare should be taught in schools.
The charity’s chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Animals need us now more than ever and we want to grow a new generation of young people who care, who are informed and who want to do their best for animals.”
Generation Kind, he added, was an ambitious education programme targeting schoolchildren, children in care, young offenders or those at risk of offending and other disadvantaged young people.
Animal welfare being taught in schools is central to the drive to ensure children developed life skills, such as compassion and empathy, along with respect for animals and a basic understanding of how to care for them.
Generation Kind comprises nine projects.
Paws4Change – Disadvantaged young people are paired with traumatised dogs for a training course to educate young people about animal welfare. It helps dogs recover from trauma through their care, attention and training.
Wild Things – Schoolchildren in deprived areas, young people excluded from school, young people not in employment, education or training, or from troubled families, are given the chance to engage with animals and understand them.
Animal Care Apprenticeships – These make the most of disadvantaged children’s enthusiasm for animals, enabling them to pursue their passion through an RSPCA apprenticeship.
Compassionate Class – An education project for seven to 11-year-olds to teach them about animals’ needs through online videos and other interactive activities.
Animal Action Days – For looked after children to help them develop positive relationships with animals, teaching compassion and empathy.
Great Debates – To encourage 11 to 14-year-olds to actively engage in animal welfare and think critically about issues surrounding it.
Teacher Training – So young children could be educated in the classroom on the importance of kindness to animals and protecting the lives of creatures in the future.
Breaking the Chain – Youth Offending Teams members would be trained to help them rehabilitate young people who have harmed animals. The projects teaches about the consequences of cruelty and promotes greater empathy for animals.
Volunteer Speakers – Guests would go into schools, youth groups and clubs to teach children about the five welfare needs of animals and promote a better understanding of animals.
Through the projects, the RSPCA hopes to reach 2million children by 2030.