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





Nov, 2020










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.

Explanatory Video  


Published Papers 

Ladny, R.T., Meyer, L. Traumatized Witnesses: Review of Childhood Exposure to Animal Cruelty. Journ Child Adol Trauma (2019).

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)





























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


Article 3


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.”



Article 6


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)”; “ 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).

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)  and World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend humane national neutering programs as the ONLY effective homeless animal management strategy





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