Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hey, children, leave them ducks alone!

I went to the park today. I sat on a bench in the sunshine and watched the ducks and geese, that is after going down to the water's edge to stop an overgrown bully of a boy from chasing the ducks and geese into the water with two of his friends. They would yell loudly, laugh and run at the waterfowl who aren't used to people aggravating them in such a fashion, or so I thought....

...but I spent a little over an hour sitting on that hard concrete bench, which was warm from the sun, watching the ducks and watching a series of children torment them. Racing at them on their bicycles, yelling at them, heckling them. Charging at them on foot, once I witnessed a young teenage girl walking with two other young teenage girls SPIT at a duck.

The worst was watching the overgrown bully, a little later, with his two overgrown bully friends form a triangle and "corner" a duck, "we've got him cornered now," said the bully. The mother happened along at that moment and told them to leave the duck alone, the duck was frightened and unsure of which way to go. What I find scary is thinking about what would have become of that duck if there had been no adults around? What if there was no one there but those three rough boys? What if the mother hadn't come along and said, "leave that duck alone, you're scaring her?" It doesn't take much imagination.

In each case either I or another related or unrelated person told these children to stop chasing the ducks, so that's a good thing...but what is causing children to want to chase animals, heckle, spit on and scare them in the first place? I thought being gentle with animals was something that you taught your children as toddlers, what's with teenagers, 13 -15 years old engaging in such activity?

According to this article from the Humane Society:

"Animal cruelty committed by any member of a family, whether parent or child, often means child abuse occurs in that family...."

"...even innocent acts of cruelty should be addressed, it is particularly important to intervene when a child is insensitive to the obvious distress of an animal, repeats a harmful behavior, or derives pleasure from causing an animal pain...."

"...Humane education should be part of every school curriculum. The Youth Education Division of The HSUS publishes materials that help teachers establish a classroom theme of kindness, respect, and tolerance.

For subscription information, contact The HSUS's Youth Education Division, the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE), at 67 Norwich Essex TurnpikeEast Haddam, CT 06423-1736"

Every child I witnessed chasing ducks and geese today was told not to chase them but not WHY they shouldn't. Every child I witnessed chasing ducks and geese today returned later to chase them again AFTER being told not to chase them.

I have seen ducks with lame feet at that park before...

makes me wonder.

1 comment:

Momma Twoop said...

Jacke, you raise some very good points - as always.

I don't know what makes a child, or children, treat animals in such a way. It may have to do with their rearing and the clues they get from their parents or guardians about animals. However, and speaking from experience, it could also be that a child, once in the midst of peers, acts completely out of character in an attempt to "fit in" or impress their peers. Even the best of rearing is challenged when that happens and it usually ALWAYS happens with children to some degree.

What I have always done with my kids is try to, in a way, humanize animals; not dangerously so, though. My children know wild animals are dangerous and they would never attempt to pet or capture one, but we just take cues from the animals as we're watching them and discuss what we think the animal is thinking/feeling. We do the same thing with our pets. They also know that animals are God's creation and are here for a reason. Too, they know that Mom would give them a good butt-whoopin' if I found out they had been mean to any animal for any reason. heh heh The wrath of Mom can be quite a deterrent, donchaknow!