According to this article in today’s Guardian, the RSPCA has said that having animals in classrooms regularly handled by the children may be harmful to the creatures. Now I’m sure there are many who will be saying this is just more pc gone crazy or that it’s a health and safety policy too far but all things considered I think the RSPCA has a fair point. Creatures can be very timid and nervous and the excited cries of affectionate young children and their clumsy little hands is likely to cause distress to the small animals . . . and probably put a huge strain on their pounding little hearts.
Of course it’s important to teach kids about animal welfare but keeping animals caged up in a noisy environment, getting them out to be handled by a bunch of excited kids and then sending them home with different children every weekend and school holiday is probably not a good way to do it.
Petting farms are great places to take children and they can learn far more about animal welfare by seeing the animals in a more natural environment. They provide a great day out for families and are ideal for field trips.
Animals delight us and bring out the nurturing instinct in our children but I think it’s important to teach our kids that animals are not toys, nor are they objects of entertainment. They are real, vulnerable and sensitive creatures that have rights and they deserve our tender care and respect.
The RSPCA has an education website that provides advice and resources for teachers.