Nonviolence: Starting with Animals

May 6, 2005

ACCORDING to the Society andAnimals Forum (formerly Psychologistsfor the Ethical Treatment of Animals,PSYETA), which works toreduce the suffering andexploitation of both “humanand non-human animals,”the link between animalabuse and violence towardpeople is not only evident, itis prevalent.For example, many ofthe perpetrators of theschool shootings thatrocked the United Statesbetween 1997 and 2001had first committed violentacts on family pets andother animals, according tothe group’s Web site.Children who see animalsabused in the home aremore likely to abuse animalsthemselves, and childrenwho abuse animals are more likely tocommit criminal acts as they get older.In a survey conducted by the group onwomen in domestic-violence shelters,“83% of women with companion animalsreported that their batterers had also hurt orthreatened the family pet.”To address this issue, the group has puttogether a packet of workbooks,a DVD and a discussionguide called “BeyondViolence,” aimed at educatingand creating dialoguearound the issue in schoolsand communities.Here in Costa Rica,Katherine Bolland, head ofthe Zancudo Association forthe Protection of Animals(ZAPPA), and the animalprotection organization theMcKee Project are workingto distribute the materials,which have been translatedinto Spanish.“I’d like to see themeverywhere,” said Bolland,who has worked for years inthe communities aroundPlaya Zancudo, on the southern Pacificcoast. “I got a grant to make copies about ayear ago, and I’ve been distributing andtalking about it up here (in San José) forthe last couple months.”Dr. Yayo Vicente, a veterinarian withthe Ministry of Public Health and theMcKee Project, says he is currently printing1,000 more workbooks and 100 copiesof the DVD to be distributed across thecountry, including in Limón, Guanacaste,the Southern Zone and San José.The workbooks in the packet are targetedat elementary-school children, andinclude lesson plans for teachers and activitiestailored toward different grades, withtitles such as “Animals in the Community,”“What Animal Would You Like to Be?”and “How Much Care do Animals Need?”The DVD discusses in more detail theconnection between violence toward animalsand violence toward humans, andincludes a discussion guide specificallyaddressing parents, mental-health professionals,teachers, law-enforcement officialsand religious leaders on how to bemore aware – and increase awareness – ofthe issue in their particular fields.For more information or for free copiesof the materials, contact Katherine Bollandat zancudozappa@yahoo.com.

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