From an early age, most kids have a natural affection for animals. Ask any three-year-old if it’s okay to hurt a dog or a pig and they will most certainly say “no” almost every time. They innately know that harming animals is wrong.
Many parents then tell a series of lies to their kids. Lies such as:
1) “We have to eat meat to live.” Or similarly, “we can’t be healthy without meat.”
2) “That’s just how it is.”
3) “It’s what they were put here/bred for.”
4) “It’s okay if it’s done humanely.”
These are just a few of the lies parents tell kids to desensitize them to the violence that they knew was wrong. Over the years, these lies seep into the fabric of their thought, reinforced by a culture that upholds the lies. By the time they are older, they have developed a cognitive dissonance when it comes to animals. That is to say, they know that harming animals is wrong, yet simultaneously hold a conflicting belief that it’s okay to harm them in certain situations. Treating animals with kindness is such a simple and convincing concept for kids, that it takes an entire culture built on lies from the time they are born to overcome their natural instincts. But it’s a powerful one, because when your parents and society tell you something is okay, kids are hard-wired to believe it.
Society hides the horrors of the animal agriculture industry from us. In Indiana alone, there are 71,000,000 animals suffering on farms, yet we barely see any of them because they are hidden away. By the time we see them, they look like this:
It’s hard for most people to realize they are harming animals when they are out of sight until they are presented as “food” or “products” at a store. But farmers, of course, have to see it every day.
Which brings us to 4-H. When confronted with such violence and suffering in your everyday life, it helps to be completely desensitized to it. The 4-H Youth Livestock Program is the starting point of teaching children how to raise, love and care about animals while still being able to send them off to be slaughtered. It’s a way of “breaking” kids. Breaking them of their natural inclinations to love and care about animals. Breaking them from a truth that is so evident: that we should not hurt animals.
Needlessly putting children through emotional trauma like this is psychologically abusive behavior. They don’t just raise the animals, they spend countless hours with them, learning their traits and personalities…seeing them as an individuals. Every year at 4-H fairs around the country, kids cry on market day as they send their friends off to slaughter. Many don’t cry, or don’t let anyone see them cry…they have been told to be tough and fed the same lies mentioned above. It goes against every natural instinct a child has to send an innocent animal to be slaughtered. 4-H teaches kids those feelings are wrong and to suppress them. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can tell kids the truth. You’ll be amazed at how easily they grasp the concept that we don’t have to harm animals. We can teach them to nurture their natural feelings of kindness and teach them that compassion is a worthwhile virtue that can be extended to animals.
Someone recently posted this on our page. It’s a great testimonial and a different perspective on 4-H…one we share here at IARA:
“Well, unfortunately it is fair time again, so children that have raised animals from babies, loved them, trained them, treated them as pets and know that they are thinking feeling beings with personalities all their own, will be taking these poor creatures to the fair to be judged and then auctioned off for slaughter. These kids know that their friend is going to be most likely killed and eaten. At the very least and which may be even worse, used for breeding purposes until their body is spent and then sold to slaughter. Talk about a way to desensitize children to animal suffering.
I think it’s cruel not only to the animal, but unfair to the child. I grew up on a farm, practically every farm pet I ever owned had its throat slit and it was butchered. And my family wonders why I don’t eat meat. They would laugh and thought it was silly that I was a blubbering tearful mess when they killed my favorite pig. My grandpa butchered at home too. Nothing like walking around the corner of the corn crib to see your pet hanging from a beam by its hind leg with its throat slit and the lard rendering pot on the fire.
I see acquaintances Facebook posts all year showing their happy child loving and raising these animals, then see the post with pictures of a crying child where “oh poor Susie, oh poor Bobby is so sad that Mr. Oinkers is gone now, but we told them everybody loves bacon” and so the cycle continues, these kids will teach their kids that animals are just commodities to be used.”