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Robbing children of their innocence

Rationalizing the taking of a life is the first step in condoning violence and lessening the value of all life

By Georges R. Dupras

I read recently where Prince George was taken to his first pheasant shoot by his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge.

My personal image of the young prince is that of a carefree, happy, effervescent child, innocent in the ways of the world. At an age where he is learning the social skills, he is also being conditioned to a way of thinking. I’m talking about the development of a mindset. Often enough, during these formative years, the attributes we most admire in youthful innocence are stripped away as part of this first passage in life.

The eager smile and restless enthusiasm of waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, or perhaps the anticipated arrival of the Easter Bunny for that all-important egg hunt, are soon washed away. Children, after all, must learn the realities of life; the boy must be made a man.

We’re all gifted to one degree or other, some with above-average intelligence, some in the arts or athletics, and others with survival instincts, business smarts, street smarts, etc.

What of sensitivity? Is that a gift or a curse? People who are overly sensitive, a trait rooted in compassion, can hardly be happy, certainly not in this world. What of children, already disillusioned through the loss of innocence, and now desensitized as a matter of course through conditioning?

Being exposed to the act of killing, and more importantly, the enjoyment in taking part in such an activity, is no less than emotional child abuse.

I’m of that school that believes that there are three things you never take from another person: their dignity, their faith and their sensitivity. To strip them of any of these is to deny one or more of the fundamental attributes that defines them.

Life is hard, and disillusionment will come soon enough. There is no reason to introduce a young free spirit to the realities of our world before he is old enough to question the why, and more importantly, to challenge the rationale. It takes a lifetime, if ever, to understand who we are, what defines us as individuals and how we fit in, if at all. Being exposed to the act of killing, and more importantly, the enjoyment in taking part in such an activity, is no less than emotional child abuse. To rationalize the taking of a life, any life, is the first step in condoning violence and lessening the value of all life.

Child abuse takes many forms: physical, emotional and through conditioning to name but three. To de-sensitize an innocent spirit through the personal enjoyment found in violence and killing is unconscionable.

The rationale

Pheasants are not native to the UK but were imported as a food and game species by hunting enthusiasts. Their numbers do increase – but this is by design. It is encouraged by the same mindsets that take part in canned hunts, then try and tell you that they are conservationists.

‘Today we are charged with being anti-rich. No one has simply said, “Perhaps they’re just anti-cruelty.’

Traditional pursuits are often used to justify practices that are no longer a part of our social values. If we cherish our traditions, it behoves us to re-think, re-invent, or discontinue some of the more controversial ones. Over the years, those of us who have expressed concern over trapping, rodeos, circuses, bullfighting, slaughter practices including Halal and Kosher, have been accused of being anti-native, anti-poor, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim. Today we are charged with being anti-rich. No one has simply said, “Perhaps they’re just anti-cruelty”.

How sad that in 2019, there are those who still find pleasure in killing, in de-valuing life, and of robbing children of their innocence.

Image: California Department of Fish and Wildlife via StockPholio.net

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Read also: Economic growth and politics: A deadly combination


Georges Dupras

Georges R. Dupras has advocated for animals for over fifty years. A member of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), a Director of the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC), Quebec Representative of Zoocheck Canada and past Board member of the Canadian SPCA, he worked on the original Save the Seal campaign in 1966 that culminated in the founding of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1969. Georges Dupras has published two books, Values in Conflict and the eBook Ethics, a Human Condition, and currently lives in Montreal, Canada.


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There are 5 comments

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  1. Vicki Van Linden

    I agree completely with the writer in his assessment of how desensitizing children to the killing of animals harms them. Teaching children to take delight in seeing an animal die violently is contrary to healthy emotional development. Children enjoy spending time with adults, learning skills and being nurtured. None of this necessitates teaching a child to find pleasure or pride in killing other living beings. Find some other activity to engage in with children that does not teach them to enjoy killing.

  2. Doris Potter

    I can still remember at around the age of six, asking my mother if the red liquid I saw in the package of meat that she was buying, was blood. She said it was “juice”. I had to accept this but it nagged at me. Finally, at age fourteen, after seeing film footage of cattle having their throats cut on the meat processing line, I became a vegetarian. Parents think they are doing what is best for their children by shielding them, or worse, de-sensitizing them (to “toughen them up”) but sensitivity and compassion are qualities to encourage. Our society will be the better for it.

  3. Jean Le Marquand

    I agree with G. Dupras that exposing young children to killing of animals (and this includes ritualistic slaughter as well as hunting), de-sensitizes a child and teaches him or her that empathy for the non-human animal is not worth considering. It is cringe-worthy when I read of a young member of a 4-H club, who after caring for a particular calf, for example, has to turn the animal over for slaughter. How can we expect to nurture compassion for our own species when we so blatantly suppress it in children?

  4. Paola Paolo

    Thank you for this article. Very well put. Cruelty and violence are normalized when children are taught to hunt and kill. I think of 4-H where a child raises and loves an animal only to realize at the end, that the animal they have connected with is to be slaughtered. And money is handed to the child at that time – violence, and cruelty are normalized and being insensitive is rewarded through money.

  5. Patricia Dumais

    Children love and trust their parents and rely on their judgement until they are old enough to think for themselves. Many families think nothing of hunting and trapping as it is something that they have practiced for generations. While in the past hunting and trapping served a purpose for survival it no longer does. Those who pursue the activity do it solely for entertainment and this should be questioned. I would be far more impressed with the Duchess of Cambridge if she took Prince George birdwatching instead of to a pheasant shoot.


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