An American university professor has warned New Zealand to wake up to the dangers of primary schools holding pest killing events that glorify killing animals.
Dr Marc Bekoff professor of ecology and biology at the University of Colorado said there was a strong link to violence in society.
Possum hunting competitions regularly occurred in rural New Zealand schools, often involving “dressing up dead possums for competitions, hurling them in throwing competitions and carrying them over obstacle courses”.
“Teaching youngsters to kill for killing’s sake is wrong and has deep repercussions for society,” he said.
Marc Bekoff said he had received two emails telling of a hunting contest that took place in Ōpōtiki, New Zealand. The first was an essay by
by Dr. Lynley Tulloch titled “The McDonaldification Of Hunting: Training Children To Kill In Opotiki” and the second, a video called “Ōpōtiki youngsters get stuck into hunting competition designed just for them.”
Marc Bekoff said statistics strongly suggested Opotiki had high levels of violence and murder. Opotiki had 1.25 homicides for every 1000 people between 2004 and 2019 – the highest rate in New Zealand.
“Yet, as a community they have come together to teach their children that violence toward another living creature is socially acceptable. Not only acceptable, but something to be glorified through gamifying it in a competition.There are many things that were very wrong with organised and sanctioned killing contests—it is really bad news that they exist and was worse news that kids smiled after “bagging” the animals.”
In interviews on television, not all children enjoyed the killing but felt they had to in order to avoid being ridiculed by their peers
“But it’s good that not all youngsters want to engage in them.”
Dr Bekoff urged New Zealand to stamp out such school practices of “killing an animal” day.
“Wake up, New Zealand. It is not rocket science to see the link between the many forms of violence. Instilling violent attitudes into kids is totally wrong. It has a dead end for society,” he added.