The RSPCA is calling for animal welfare to be on the curriculum as nearly a quarter of schoolchildren aged 10-18 have witnessed animal cruelty on social media.
The animal welfare charity reports that young children are being exposed to horrific incidents of animal suffering online in ways previous generations have simply not experienced.
The RSPCA say that they see nearly 5000 incidents of cruelty and neglect on social media reported to it each year.
In response, they are launching Generation Kind – its biggest ever education and prevention programme aimed at children and has launched a petition calling for animal welfare to be taught in all schools.
A new poll by the charity revealed that 78% of people say that animal welfare should be on the curriculum.
Chief Executive, Chris Sherwood, said: “The number of children seeing animal abuse online is shocking – the current generation of children are witnessing horrifying animal cruelty and neglect through channels which simply didn’t exist in previous generations.
“The risk for children growing up in the 21st Century is that frequent and casual to animal abuse will desensitise them and may even make it seem acceptable. Animals need us now more than ever and we want to grow a new generation of young people who care, who are informed and who want to do their best for animals.
“This is why we are launching Generation Kind – an ambitious education programme targeting school children, children in care, young offenders or those at risk of offending and other disadvantaged young people. Central to this is a new campaign to get animal welfare taught in all schools.”
The poll, which was carried out by Beautiful Insights for the charity revealed that 23% of 10-18-year olds had seen animal cruelty on social media sites and a further 3% had witnessed it first-hand.
The RSPCA believes that teaching animal welfare would ensure children develop key life skills, including compassion and empathy, as well as respect for animals and a basic understanding of how to care for them.
They also believe that animal welfare would make a significant contribution to young people’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, which all schools must promote.
The Generation Kind campaign which comprises nine project, the RSPCA hopes to reach 2 million children by 2030.
Chris added: “This is the most important campaign we have ever undertaken. We are fighting animal abuse and neglect every day but we can only do so much. If we can foster empathy and responsibility towards animals in the consumers, politicians and decision makers of tomorrow, we can create a society which is truly kinder to animals.”