Comprehensive Report on the Effects Caused to Children Witnessing Violent Government Practices Against Homeless Animals
Failure to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
For further details, contact:
Malcolm Plant, European Link Coalition -
Anna Mulà, Fondation Franz Weber -
Violent Government Homeless Animal Control Practices Witnessed By Children.
Failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The following report is presented by the Fondation Franz Weber and European Link Coalition. Attention has been drawn to the UN Committee about the existence of activities involving children and adolescents below the age of 18 (hereinafter children) that violate nation’s obligations under the Convention.
The UN Committee has responded to the ‘Harmful Effects’ caused to children witnessing violent animal abuse in bullfighting to advise nations where this takes place to ensure that children are not exposed to these practices. The Committee declared to :- ' Increase efforts to change violent traditions and practices that negatively affect the well-being of children, including by prohibiting children’s access to bullfighting and associated performances 'CRC/C/PRT/CO/5-6 G1603366
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has included an express statement regarding the violation of the rights of people under 18 years old in the formulation of the Concluding Observations of the following countries: Portugal (2014) Colombia (February 2015), Mexico (June 2015), Peru and France (February 2016), Ecuador (October 2017) and Spain (February 2018), Portugal (September 2019)
A subsequent study conducted by Teesside University, UK explored the effects of violent practices against animals, witnessed by children in societies where homeless animal populations are subjected to management by killing. The effects were the same as identified in exposure to bullfighting but on a significantly greater scale with many countries exercising this practice in public and witnessed by children. This could be prevented if a WHO, OIE & FVE neutering program replaced the killing practices.
Plant, M., van Schaik, P., Gullone, E., & Flynn, C. (2016). “It’s a Dog’s Life”: Culture, Empathy, Gender, and Domestic Violence Predict Animal Abuse in Adolescents—Implications for Societal Health. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 0886260516659655
Articles 3, 6, 12, 19.1, 24.3, 27.1, 29, 31, 28.2, 32 and 36 of the Convention.
Thus, the State Party has not adopted the necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure children such protection and care as is necessary for their wellbeing and to protect against mental abuse in public places. The physical, mental, spiritual and moral development of children is severely compromised by the danger linked to the activity and to traumatic consequences and after-effects of viewing such events. Witnessing public killing of sentient beings often befriended by the children does not foster the development of those educational values incumbent on the State Parties.
Video - A Homeless Animal Control Practice
The Committee has already declared its position on the exposure of children to violent animal abuse on the report on the Concluding Observations of Portugal CRC/C/PRT/CO/5-6 (2019) https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2FC%2FPRT%2FCO%2F5-6&Lang=en
Public concerns about violent killing practices
Various psychological studies on violence and animal abuse have shown that witnessing or participating in the violence inherent in bullfights and witnessing public violence against homeless animals can have the following negative impacts on children:
Traumatic effects on children, who cannot freely express their feelings in an environment shaped by adults. A child’s normal reaction to the sight of an animal bleeding as a result of human violence is always, on principle, one of rejection, distress, and fear.
Habituation to violence if we show them that gratuitous violence can be acceptable and even recommendable. Witnessing the mistreatment of animals perpetuates the cycle of violence by desensitization and imitation of behaviours, especially among people who are at an age when they are learning and being taught. As a result, youths who repeatedly witness the mistreatment of animals might be more susceptible to “learning” to use violence in their personal relationships.
Confusion of values because the child’s opinion of what is fair and unfair is destabilized. Public Killing of innocent domesticated animals is the negation of what children understand a value to be. Children’s ability to feel empathy is not only limited to human beings; they can also feel it for animals. This is based on the concept of biophilita - the innate emotional bond that humans have towards other living creatures - a predisposition that is particularly strong in children. Killing animals also runs contrary to law - and children know that mistreatment of animals is punishable by law in many countries.
Weakening of the moral compass at a time when children need to find role models to identify with. Children, anxious to preserve the image of their parents and to avoid conflicts of loyalty, have no option but to deny the brutality they have witnessed and to hide all feelings of compassion towards the animal victim. A progressive desensitization process ensues with an erosion of affective empathy and a normalisation of violence which can then be taken into the child' adult world and enacted against people and property. A Cycle of Abuse can be created which results in an increased likelihood of child safeguarding issues and domestic violence. All forms of public violence against animals can cause 'Harmful Effects' to the observing child whether these practices include shooting, poisoning or violent removal for later slaughter.
Violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and General comments
General principles: articles 3 and 6
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
The State Party has not adopted the necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure children such protection and care as is necessary for their wellbeing, disregarding the best interests of children.
GENERAL COMMENT no. 5 (2003) general measures of implementation of the
Convention on the rights of the child
“Article 3, paragraph 1 -In all actions concerning children the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. The article refers to actions undertaken by “public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies”. The principle requires active measures throughout Government, Parliament and the Judiciary. Every legislative, administrative and judicial body or institution is required to apply the best interests principle by systematically considering how children’s rights and interests are or will be affected by their decisions and actions.”
GENERAL COMMENT No. 14 (2013) on the right of children for their best interests to be a primary consideration (article 3, paragraph 1)
“Although preservation of religious and cultural values and traditions as part of the identity of the child must be taken into consideration, practices that are inconsistent or incompatible with the rights established in the Convention are not in the child’s best interests. Cultural identity cannot excuse or justify the perpetuation by decision-makers and authorities of traditions and cultural values that deny the child or children the rights guaranteed by the Convention” (section
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
Violation of article 6 is in connection with the interpretation of said article made by the GENERAL COMMENT no. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, according to which:
“The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, thus “The obligation of the State party includes comprehensive protection from violence and exploitation which would jeopardize a child’s right to life, survival and development”. The Committee expects States to interpret “development” in its broadest sense as a holistic concept, embracing the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, psychological and social development. Implementation measures should be aimed at achieving the optimal development for all children” (paragraph 62).”
Children who take part by training in bullfighting schools and performing in public, and also being witness to how violence is inflicted upon a living being, impassively and in a celebratory way, clearly have their development affected negatively.
Childrens Right to Be Heard
Article 12 1. State Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Civil rights and liberties: article 19.1
1. State Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
The State Party has not taken appropriate steps to protect children from the mental harm of abuse caused by children being exposed to violent homele ssanimal management practices.
It should be pointed out that the Committee, in GENERAL COMMENT no. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, has used the term violence to refer to behaviour included in article 19.1 (section 4), regardless of the violence exerted (section 17). In this regard, the Committee notes that the term "appropriate...measures" refers to a wide range of measures covering all the public sectors and must be applied and be effective in preventing and combating all forms of violence, as "Cannot be interpreted to mean acceptance of some forms of violence (section 39).5
Wellbeing and basic health: article 27.1
Article 24.3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
Article 27. 1. The State Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
Recognition of the right included in article 27.1 is violated when dealing with public animal killing, as the mental, spiritual and moral development of children is severely compromised by the experience linked to the activity and to traumatic consequences and after-effects of viewing such an event (habituation of violence, traumatic effects, moral desensitisation and disturbance of values).
5 Similarly the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations on "Children's Rights" A/RES/61/146, of 19
December 2006 condemned all forms of violence against children and urges States to take effective legislative and other measures to prevent and eliminate violence in all its forms (physical, mental and psychological).
Education, entertainment and cultural activities: articles 29 and 31
Article 28. 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
Article 29 . 1. State Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for a responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
In this sense, it should be pointed out that GENERAL COMMENT no. 1 (2001), paragraph 1 of article
29: aims of education, in which the Committee has emphasised the following aspects relating to children’s education:
"Schools should foster a humane atmosphere" (section 12); "...within their broader ethical framework," (section 7); "...This includes the educational processes, the pedagogical methods and the environment within which education takes place, whether it be the home, school, or elsewhere" (section 8); “A school which allows...other violent practices to occur is not one which meets the requirements of article 29 (1)”; “...it emphasizes the need for education to be designed and provided in such a way that it promotes and reinforces the range of specific ethical values enshrined in the Convention, including education for peace, tolerance, and respect for the natural environment” (section 13).