Teaching Children to Kill Animals?

Children at the Lydd Primary School in Kent, England raised a lamb named Marcus by hand and then voted to have him sent to slaughter.

 The school started a program, which involves some 250 children, with the intention of teaching them about breeding and raising animals, which also includes ducks, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

“The decision to send the lamb for meat, which has the support of the school council and staff, the governing body and the majority of parents, has now been carried out,” said headmistress Andrea Charman in a statement.

While some parents were in support of the program, others have issued statements saying their children have been traumatized by the event. Animal welfare advocates were also outraged by the decision and campaigned to save Marcus from slaughter, including making offers to buy the lamb.

However, Charman stood firm.  The children, ages 6 through 11, had voted 13-1 to send Marcus to slaughter to use the proceeds to buy piglets for the farm. Although, with the backlash over Marcus, the school has put a hold on plans to buy more animals and may consider shutting down the program.

This type of program raises a host of ethical concerns over teaching children about the relationship between humans and animals. In terms of teaching them about farming, and where their meat comes from, painting a picture of cute baby farm animals being lovingly hand raised by children is hardly an accurate depiction of the life a typical farm animal faces.

Additionally, teaching them the lesson that animals are merely commodities used for profit could be setting the stage for a future generation of indifference towards other creatures. 

If you think Andrea Charman should be removed from her position, sign Care2 member Holly Elvin’s petition. 

creative commons


Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey4 years ago

How about the number of insects and bugs that people will trample underfoot throughout their lifetimes?

The fact remains that unless one is a strict breatharian, existing without any food at all, by eating food, even vegan and vegatarian, you will directly, or indirectly kill some form of life, somewhere, some time. It's largely a matter of whether, whilst eating you can give some thanks, consciously to the lifeforms that have died to bring food to your own table.

There are degrees and layers to all this, and of course, the human species has made an industry out of killing animals for meat and dairy consumption for ages. I would rather eat some meat from an animal I know had a decent existence out in a field, rather than being cooped up in a "battery farm" just being literally milked for their food and drink.

We have to also remember, that we are food ourselves, for other beings, so it's not that we're top of the food chain, but that that's just how it sometimes appears...

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

This is not what to teach

Gabi B.
Gabi B8 years ago

Susan D. -
To be fair, your own NFU contradicts what you are saying.

There are certainly sheep raised in Kent. The Romney Marsh, a lowland breed hails from Kent, a very popular breed there and abroad.. According to the NFU there are approximately 1.4 million sheep in the south east - the biggest concentration in the east, Kent and East Sussex. While they recognize the growing of crops by abundunce in that area, they also specify that 7 of every 10 lambs hail from those lowlands. They also specify that with the lessened degree of demand for wool,just 3%, they are bred and sold primarily for meat. The UK is the most abundant area for sheep and account for 1/3 of the Europian Union's sheep meat production.

The idea of sheep being raised for meat and consuming meat from sheep raised should come as no large surprise to the majority of the people in the U.K., specifically not in Kent.
The percentage of lamb consumed in the UK is and has been for the last 10 years in the mid 60's percentile, domestically raised.

That being said, I am not negating your right to the opinion that this project was wrong. I just believe that the arguements should remain valid and as factual as possible on all sides. Too often heated emotion takes the place of real debate. This situation has been skewed in several ways in order to support a cause and evoke emotional responses. While the cause may be in part or wholly justified, proceeding and arguing by the use of misinformation is not.

Susan D.
Susan D8 years ago

I just reda B Chally's other comment-- "angry fear"? No, B, quiet satisfaction, actually.

Susan D.
Susan D8 years ago

B. Chally seems very confused and is very willing it would seem to believe anything she is told so long as it is not told to her by anyone who cares about animals. One of her misunderstandings is to think that Kent is somehow "lamb farming country" -- it is not. Sheep are farmed in places such as Yorkshire, Cumbria and Wales to name but 3. Kent is known as the "garden of England" for good reason -- it is a centre for fruit growing and in particular hop-growing -- hops are used for making beer.

Barbara Chally
Barbara Chally8 years ago

Susan D, I didn't "claim" to know much more of this story than published in the online newspaper I referred you to. A parent posted his children knew the lamb would be marketed in September as decided in June. I had no more mathematical doubts about that possibility than about why he would post untruth so easy to establish by locals doubting him. I have no idea when the lamb was taken to the school or proof of the actual slaughter other than published. I told you what I based my understanding on, and it wasn't intended to mislead you or anyone else,

I was never confused by who argued about "Meat-or-not" or if proper to allow children to form emotional relationships with animals to be slaughtered. I personally would not have encouraged forming any relationships myself, but I also would have realized it might occur among some delicate children. My understanding is still that the program was devised to teach as many farming techniques as practical to children whose parents knew in advance what happens to farm animals and wanted their children to. I still contend children were told as well, whether each one fully understood or not. The ending of this particular lamb was a logical one, and the possibility shouldn't have shocked anyone paying attention to this program throughout its implementation.

I do find rather ironic your angry fear posted here that children so shocked will become vegetarians -- but they could instead choose farming also common in their area.

Barbara Chally
Barbara Chally8 years ago

Using same dictionary as before:


1. A living human. Often used in combination:
2. An individual of specified character:
3. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality; the self.
4. The living body of a human;
5. Physique and general appearance.
6. Physique and general appearance.


1. Humans considered as a group or in indefinite numbers:
2. A body of persons living in the same country under one national government; a nationality.
3. A body of persons sharing a common religion, culture, language, or inherited condition of life.
4. Persons with regard to their residence, class, profession, or group:
5. The mass of ordinary persons; the populace.
6. The citizens of a political unit, such as a nation or state; the electorate.
7. Persons subordinate to or loyal to a ruler, superior, or employer;
8. Family, relatives, or ancestors.
9. Informal- Animals or other beings distinct from humans: little people of the woods.

Well, Dan, I've shown you mine; why can't you show me yours? You're still unpublished, right? Hung up in peer review? Big names like Webster, Oxford and Cambridge won't validate your unique definitions? I wonder why. No, Dan, it's not cultural prejudice and bigotry ... just a lot of history against you. Maybe there'll even be recognition some day, posthumously.

Dan C.
Dan C8 years ago

It follows that since sentient nonhumans are moral persons, they are due legal consideration as well. It’s just that society hasn’t advanced to the point of recognizing proper legal consideration of nonhuman beings, just like society in antebellum America hadn’t advanced to the point of proper legal consideration of women and human slaves.

It’s very easy to see others’ cultural prejudice and bigotry. It’s not so easy to see our own. It’s always interested me how we humans like to think we have “free will”, as if we’re somehow unaffected by the prejudices we’ve been taught since childhood and other circumstances of birth. We’ve all been affected by learned prejudices; it’s just that some of us shake them off easier than others.

Dan C.
Dan C8 years ago

Cattle are not people, but cattle are persons.

“People” is a synonym for “humans”. A person is a being or entity who or that is due moral or legal consideration. Sentient nonhuman beings are persons who are due moral consideration. Of course, there’s a centuries-long history of bigotry in the form of extreme speciesism that might cause some less-than-open-minded people to deny the personhood of sentient nonhumans, but bigotry is just what that is. It should be overcome as bigotry against race was overcome.

Susan D.
Susan D8 years ago

If B Chally thinks that parents being told in JUNE about the aim of killing Marcus (as she claims they were) means they knew what would happen to Marcus from the outset, then she cannot do her maths -- Marcus was over 6 months old when he wqas killed, whereas June was only 3 months ago. Therefore, when Marcus was little and being cuddled and bottle fed by the children, that was BEFORE June. Incidentally, B. Chally seems to be confusing the general argument about "Meat-or-not" with the question of whether it is right to allow children to develop an emotional relationship with an animal and then send it to be slaughtered. It is quite likely that the children who have experienced such a shock will become vegetarian.