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Call for new law to protect children from the brutalities of hunting

Celebrities have joined the animal rights charity PETA to call on the government to protect children from hunting.

PETA has launched an online petition, urging the Sunak government to introduce new legislation. The charity says:

“The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published General Comment No 26 which recommends that children be shielded from “exposure to violence, such as … violence inflicted on animals”. To protect children from exposure to such violence, they must be barred from witnessing or participating in hunting activities.”

General Comment No 26

General Comment No 26 was launched by the UN in September 2023. Before adopting it, the UN undertook a consultation process, which included 16,331 contributions from children from 121 countries. Within the extensive document is a section called Right to freedom from all forms of violence. The recommendation states:

“Children must be protected from all forms of physical and psychological violence and from exposure to violence, such as domestic violence or violence inflicted on animals.

A previous draft of the General Comment went even further, saying:

“we strongly suggest an addition to Item 2 of the proposed General Comment 26 to include “goals of eliminating all forms of violent traditions & practices against animals, which may be witnessed by a child”. This proposed addition is based on numerous documented empirical evidence showing that exposure to all forms of violence against animals significantly harms children’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, psychological and social development.”

Children are often indoctrinated into hunting from a very young age, when they are impressionable, and when they look to their parents for guidance as to what is morally right and wrong. Perhaps the most obvious example of this indoctrination is that of Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s children. They have been exposed to the Mendip Farmers Hunt’s criminal activities for years, attending hunts with their mother as field riders, and sitting with terriermen on quad bikes.

 

Helena Rees-Mogg and her child ride with the Mendip Farmers Hunt
Helena Rees-Mogg and her child ride with the Mendip Farmers Hunt

Celebrity support for a ban

Comedian Ricky Gervais, actor Sir Mark Rylance, supermodel Twiggy Lawson, and others are supporting PETA’s campaign. They have sent a letter to Rishi Sunak, urging him to introduce new legislation. PETA and the celebrities stated:

“Witnessing animals being killed for human entertainment can leave impressionable young people profoundly disturbed and desensitise them to animal suffering. It teaches children that the lives of others are not valuable and that it’s acceptable – even enjoyable – to inflict pain on and torment them.

There are well-established links between cruelty to animals in childhood and antisocial behaviour in adulthood. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, witnessing cruelty or neglect may lead children to engage in abuse towards humans and other animals in the future.”

Grooming children

They went on to urge Sunak’s government to protect children from being groomed by the hunting industry:

“Certain hunting groups start grooming children as young as 4 to chase foxes to their deaths. While the official line may be to allow only those over the age of 12 to use guns, some parents start teaching kids to shoot as young as age 3.

Hunts are inherently dangerous for children. In September this year, an 11-year-old boy was shot in the hip during a hunting trip in Sussex, leaving him with potentially life-changing injuries. And in 2021, a 2-year-old girl was fatally injured during a fox hunt in Yorkshire.”

PETA and the celebrities are asking the government to “follow the [UN] committee’s guidance and ban children from participating in hunting spectacles”. Of course, this alone won’t stop the barbaric practice of hunting foxes with packs of hounds. But it will, at least, give children some protection from the gruesome reality of hunting.

To sign PETA’s petition, click here.

 

  • It’s not just children that suffer at the hands of hunting of course. Foxes, deer, and other animals chased, terrorised killed for fun by hunters have the same capacity to suffer and feel pain as the dogs and cats or any other family members we share our homes with. Protect the Wild has a petition calling for the Hunting Act to be scrapped and replaced with a new law – the Hunting of Mammals Bill – which would effectively shut down hunting for good: click here.