Humane education is a method of teaching children about treating animals and humans with compassion.
“People who are more compassionate, more considerate to animals and respectful of their needs are the people who are more compassionate and more respectful toward other people,” Dr. Sheryl Pipe, senior director of humane education at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said.
The ASPCA has an extensive humane education program, which reached 10,000 teachers last year. The program incorporates humane education concepts into a variety of different subject areas, and the lesson plans can be used in conjunction with an existing curriculum.
“We are not saying to close all of your books, and now do humane education, but rather to use humane education while you’re doing science, math or reading,” Pipe said.
Pipe recommends several strategies for implementing humane education in your school or classroom.
Strategies for Parents, Students and Advocates
1. Purchase humane education curricula and offer it to teachers or administrators to implement in the classroom.
2. Write letters to the proper school administrators requesting a humane education program. Parent-teacher organizations are good places to organize.
3. Make a donation to a humane education program.
According to Pipe, it’s important to consult your state’s curricula guidelines to make sure your program meets state requirements. Several groups offer information about humane education laws online, such as HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers).
State laws in California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin require that humane education be part of the school’s curriculum. Teachers and parents can use this information to advocate for a more comprehensive humane education program.
Strategies for Teachers and School Administrators
1. Purchase curricula, and implement it on your own within the classroom.
2. Obtain training to implement a stand alone program or to incorporate a humane education program into the existing curricula.
3. Request assistance from a local humane shelter or a national organization in implementing a humane education program at your school. To find a shelter near you, click here. If you live in New York, where the ASPCA is based, the ASPCA can help set up a program at your school. If you live in another state, you can work with one of the organizations listed below.
Organizations offering humane education curricula and training include:
- American Humane Association
- The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Best Friends Animal Society
- Dumb Friends League
- The Humane Society of the United States – Youth
The ASPCA, in conjunction with CAT FANCY and CatChannel, is offering a 15 percent discount on humane education curricula from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, 2007. Visit the ASPCA Online Store, and enter the discount code ASPCACAT to receive a discount on humane education curricula and other ASPCA items. Information about the ASPCA’s humane education program, as well as educational materials can be found on the ASPCA’s website.
Brad Kollus is a freelance writer specializing in the human-feline bond. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Elizabeth, son Dylan and their four cats.