United Poultry Concerns
Promoting the compassionate and respectful
treatment of domestic fowl

PO Box 150 • Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
(757) 678-7875 • FAX (757) 678-5070

5 November 2002
Contact: Karen Davis 757-678-7875
United Poultry Concerns News Advisory
Re: Wisconsin Teacher's Hatcheting of a Chicken in the Schoolyard

United Poultry Concerns thanks everyone who contacted the Washington Island, Wisconsin School District in response to our October 7 Action Alert regarding a teacher who killed a chicken with a hatchet in front of his 7th and 8th grade students in September to teach them "where food comes from." UPC is informed that the Washington Island School Board is considering a policy against the instructional killing of animals as a result of the criticism that ensued. UPC's letters to the Door County (WI) Advocate ran on October 18, and our letter to the Washington Island (WI) Observer was published on October 24.

UPC Letter to the Door County Advocate, published October 18, 2002

Washington Island schoolteacher Steve Waldron and his defenders cannot justify killing a bird with a hatchet in front of 7th and 8th graders. If Washington Island is a farming community, many children have already seen animals butchered, and sensitive children learn early to hide their moral emotions rather than risk false charges of squeamishness for showing compassion and horror. That is one basis of the "consent" on the part of parents and students to Mr. Waldron's schoolyard killing on September 20th. It appears indeed that some parents who signed the "permission" form did not even realize, based on the wording, exactly what they were consenting to on behalf of their child.

At least two of Mr. Waldron's students were traumatized by his conduct. No doubt there were others. Mr. Waldron may be a fine teacher in other areas, but he was not fine when he swung a hatchet over a defenseless chicken in the schoolyard. If he wanted to teach students about slaughter, he should have taken them to a slaughterhouse or used video footage. With a little effort, he could have obtained all the slaughter tapes he wanted from animal protection organizations. He did not need to add another killing to the daily massacre.

Mr. Waldron's action cannot be undone, but the Washington Island School District needs to implement a written policy banning the "instructional" killing of animals in the future. Students need to be taught by example to respect their fellow creatures by protecting and cherishing them. We do not need teachers hacking animals' heads off as part of a lesson plan and school administrators saying that the hatchet used to kill a living creature is not a weapon. The use of euphemisms to cover up a bad deed is a crime in itself.

Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns
UPC Letter
Washington Island Observer
Published October 24, 2002

Mr. Waldron was no more justified in killing a bird to show where "food comes from" than if he had killed a dog to show how animals die in animal shelters. He could not have staged a mini-war zone in the schoolyard to show how people die in war. He got away with "instructional" killing of a chicken only because society lacks a consistent ethic and the chicken was defenseless. In addition it appears that some parents did not fully understand the confusing "permission" slip.

Mr. Waldron's plea about "respectful killing" doesn't convince. Decapitating a helpless conscious creature is not respectful. Putting a suffering, dying bird in a post-decapitation condition that invites nervous, hysterical and callous laughter is the opposite of respectful. Mr. Waldron's conduct was not only an act of animal abuse but of child abuse. Many students will never get over the trauma he inflicted on them. What he did was to encourage callous students to feel vindicated and sensitive students to stay mute under the threat of ridicule and other penalties.

More and more Americans, including teenagers, are taking the idea of respect for life to heart by learning about vegetarian nutrition and becoming vegetarians. They are confidently expanding the Golden Rule because even health experts now say that contrary to what used to be thought, people don't need to eat animals to be healthy and would be better off without animal products. Those opposed to supporting unnecessary suffering should seriously consider these claims. Surely the best lesson that anyone can practice and teach is Let There Be Peace and Let It Begin With Me. Why would anyone want less for their children?

Karen Davis, PhD

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information visit www.UPC-online.org

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