Saturday, May 25, 2013


To The Animal Welfare and Education Community

                                                                             By, Dr. Jeanette Shutay Ph.d.

I am currently an Assistant Professor at National-Louis University in the College of Education. I teach research methodology and statistics courses and am writing this at the request of Mr. Randy N. Warner of 21st Century Animal Resource and Education Services. My future research interests include designing and implementing Humane Education programs into the Chicago Public Schools. I feel that Humane Education programs are pertinent to the moral development of children. Furthermore, I believe that children who are offered a science curriculum that emphasizes animal ecology and behavior will find the scientific experience more interesting and more rewarding. The hypothesized result is that not only will the children develop a more sophisticated and solid moral structure, but they will come to enjoy education more, resulting in higher attendance, more participation in the field of science, lower drop-out rates, etc.
     The effects of Humane Education programs have not been well documented in the published literature. However, many teachers that I have spoken to about humane education and bringing animals into the classroom have said that they felt it had been a great experience for the children. Not one teacher that I have spoken to said that they thought that it was not a good idea.
     Although I have not found any published research yet that specifically discusses the effects of humane education, I have found some unpublished master theses and dissertations which focus on exactly that. Theses and dissertations tend to be subjected to the highest forms of criticism and evidence some of the best research rigor. Therefore, although these studies are not published, I am fairly certain that the research is sound and the findings are credible. These studies provide empirical support for the implementation of Humane Education programs.
     For example, one study conducted by Justine Tweyman-Erez (1998) examined the effects of a Humane Education curriculum on the attitudes of fourth grade students. Statistical analyses confirmed that the Humane Education curriculum changed the attitudes of the fourth grade students in the study. Furthermore, this change in attitude was found to be stable over time.
     Another study conducted by Wendy Shoemake Neyer (1998) examined the impact of humane education on adolescent attitudes and knowledge towards animals and others. Her results indicated that those students who received the intervention (i.e., Humane Education program) had significantly higher knowledge scores related to humane treatment of animals as well as humans. Open-ended comments by the experimental group participants (i.e., those who received the intervention) suggested awareness, empathy, and adoption of non-violent conflict resolution techniques.
     A third study conducted by Thomas Acton Fitzgerald Jr. (1980) evaluated the effectiveness of humane education. Specifically, do Humane Society Education programs result in improved attitudes toward animal life? Thomas analyzed the impact of three different humane education treatments which were examples of the traditional programs taught by local humane societies to fifth and sixth grade students. The three treatments varied in terms of reading material with no instruction, reading material with instruction, and reading material with instruction repeated over time. The results indicated that there were significant differences between the groups as a function of the treatment. Those who received reading material with instruction evidenced more humane attitudes than those without instruction and those without any training at all.
     These studies are just a select few that I have chosen to briefly discuss for the sake of keeping this letter short and to the point. However, in addition to these studies I would like to point out another reason for implementing Humane Education programs. This second point relates to the correlation between animal cruelty and other behavioral/personality disorders. Research has indicated that those who are physically abusive to animals tend to be more violent than average, in general (e.g., in all domains of life). Let me give you some specific examples that support this supposition.
    The Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP) is an instrument which is designed to measure one's potential for abusing children (Milner, 1986). This instrument has been referenced as a research tool in the abuse literature. One of the statements on this questionnaire is "I enjoy having pets" in which the person is to state whether he or she agrees or disagrees with the statement. This particular item is on the questionnaire because it has clinical significance. In other words, there is a relationship between one enjoying or liking pets and one's likelihood to be a child abuser.
     Another instrument, which is intended to detect child behavioral problems, references animals. The Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 2-3 (CBCL) developed by Achenbach (1988) specifically asks if the person's child is "cruel to animals" in which the person is requested to indicate how true the statement is for his or her child (0 = not true; 1 = somewhat or sometimes true; and 2 = very true or often true). In this case the child's behavior towards animals is considered to be a valid indicator of behavioral problems which later tend to turn into conduct disorder in the teen years and antisocial disorder in the adult years.
     Both of these instruments have been found to uphold high standards of reliability and validity. These instruments have been used many times as a research tool for empirical studies as well as for detecting and or predicting child behavioral problems (CBCL). It is not a coincidence that both of these instruments reference either one's view or treatment towards animals. Although these two particular questions do not in and of themselves define an adult as an abuser or a child as one that possesses behavioral disorders, they have been found to be highly related to the dependent variable (e.g., abuse or behavioral problems).
In sum, based on the unpublished research and the relationship between animal cruelty and other forms of potentially criminal behavior, I believe that aggressive and detailed Humane Education programs are not only a good idea, but they are critical! There are several societal problems that I believe can be at least partially remedied by the implementation of Humane Education programs. Some of these societal problems include, but are not limited to the following: criminal behavior towards animals and humans; weakened moral development; poor academic achievement; and disinterest in academics, particularly in the field of science.
     If you would like additional information on any of the studies or instruments in which I speak of in this letter, please feel free to contact me at
Dr. Jeanette Shutay

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