For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2023
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
Amid reports that police are investigating a case involving a local juvenile seen strangling a duck on video, today TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent an urgent letter to the superintendent of Westmont Hilltop School District along with kindness-to-animals curricula and Empathy Now, a guide to preventing violence by young people, for all educators in the district.
According to the reports, the teenager appeared in a video on Snapchat, showing himself grabbing and shaking the bird by the neck, followed by a photo of what officials presume to be the same duck decapitated.
“A young person posting a video of himself choking a duck shows how critical it is to be taught empathy from an early age,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion can be cultivated, and TeachKind is on standby to help teach young people that violence is wrong, whether the victim is a duck or a classmate.”
TeachKind notes that Westmont Hilltop School District features a “Say Something” logo at the top of its website and follows Sandy Hook Promise’s violence-prevention program, which lists cruelty to animals as a sign that young people are in crisis. Research shows that approximately 43% of perpetrators of school shootings first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to the community at large. TeachKind resources would be easily integrated into the district’s existing curriculum to help prevent future violence.
TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. Its other free resources include a high school social justice curriculum (Challenging Assumptions) and the Share the World program kit for young children, both of which it is sending to Westmont Hilltop School District.
For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.