After a video was posted to social media showing a teenager slamming a calf to the ground and beating the animal, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—is offering urgent empathy lessons for the district’s children.
The Calf Attack Was Preventable: Empathy Needs to Be Taught in Schools
The video shows a teenager (reportedly in Mercer County, Ohio) body-slamming a defenseless calf to a barn floor and then repeatedly slapping the young animal in the face. Other cows can be heard bellowing in the background as the teen mockingly strokes the calf’s face, calling them a “f***ing bitch,” before punching the animal in the cheek. Every time the calf is able to get to their feet, the teen throws them back on the ground while the person filming seemingly laughs and encourages the attacker to continue. Because the suspects are reportedly minors, their names have not been made public, but at least one of the teens allegedly involved in the gruesome beating has been arrested.
Cows are curious, clever, gentle animals who form complex relationships with their family members. Like humans, mother cows form strong maternal bonds with their calves, and on dairy farms, they can be heard frantically crying out for their babies after they’ve been forcibly separated so that their milk can be consumed by humans.
In response to the disturbing video, TeachKind sent an urgent letter asking local Celina City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Schmiesing to accept free resources that could be used to help area schools achieve the Ohio Department of Education’s goals for social and emotional learning, which, according to the state, help students “do better academically, socially, and behaviorally.”
Because schools around the country are facing an epidemic of violence and bullying, it’s never been more important to teach students the value of compassion and empathy when interacting with each other and our fellow animals. TeachKind’s empathy-building resources, which are unlike anything offered by any other organization, are available to all schools free of charge to help stop abuse. Free education resources include Empathy Now, a step-by-step, trauma-informed guide to preventing youth violence against animals; Challenging Assumptions, a program kit for high school students; and the Share the World program kit for young children.
Violence Toward Our Fellow Animals Often Leads to Violence Against Humans
There’s a reason the FBI keeps track of cases of cruelty to animals and the organization Sandy Hook Promise includes cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list: It’s often a precursor to violence against humans. TeachKind notes that research shows that 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals and that other studies have found that animal abuse is a better predictor of sexual assault than previous convictions for homicide, arson, or weapons offenses. The teen’s attack of a gentle calf is just the latest sign that schools must foster empathy in classrooms immediately in order to address the epidemic of youth violence against animals of all species.