Information for Teachers

Why is it important to address animal cruelty by children?

Children who are deliberately cruel to animals may be abused themselves, and many need intervention to prevent further violence. As a teacher, you may witness various degrees of inappropriate interactions with animals by your students – on the school grounds, on field trips, or with a classroom animal. A student may disclose an act of animal abuse (by self or others in the home) in discussions or writings. Your response can make a huge difference for the student – and the animal(s) involved.

If you notice a student (or group of students) acting cruelly towards an animal, respond appropriately by addressing the act and explaining its consequences on the animal. Treating the opportunity as a “teachable moment” by responding in a calm but firm manner will often afford the best chance of providing information that will cause the students to examine – and hopefully change – their actions.

For acts which are more serious – and/or enacted by older students – you may need to report it to the police, to the Alberta SPCA, and/or Children’s Services. If you want advice on how to respond to a particular situation, you can call the Alberta SPCA Education Department at 780-447-3600 ext. 3739 or send an email.

What should I do if a student discloses animal cruelty?

If a student discloses animal cruelty – enacted by the student or another person such as a family member, it is important to respond appropriately according to the seriousness of the incident. Take the student’s comments seriously, but don’t overreact. Try to find out as much as you can, or refer the student to a counsellor. Depending on the nature of the disclosure, you may want to report the incident to the police, the Alberta SPCA or local humane society, or to Children’s Services (especially if the disclosure involves family members). If you want advice on how to respond to a particular situation, you can call the Alberta SPCA Education Department at 780-447-3600 ext. 3739 or send an email.

Sometimes an educational approach may be appropriate. To learn more about the educational resources available through the Alberta SPCA, visit everylivingthing.ca.

How can I encourage students to treat animals humanely?

The principles of Humane Education can be adopted to promote a circle of caring that includes both people and animals. Through its approach and subject content, humane education promotes an understanding of the human responsibility to care for – and about – all living things and the earth we share. You can practice humane education by looking for ways to include examples of kindness in all your subject areas. Most importantly, model kindness and respect to your students through your actions, words, and choice of teaching methods and resources. To learn more about the educational resources available through the Alberta SPCA, visit everylivingthing.ca.