The first humane education programs were started
in the nineteenth century by the original animal welfare and child
protection organizations, who frequently shared the same founders. For
example, Henry Bergh established the American Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals in 1866 and the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children in 1874. George T. Angell founded the Massachusetts
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1868 and the
American Humane Education Society in 1889. The humane education programs
targeted schools and church groups with books (e.g., Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe)
and other printed materials as well as talks and sermons. Their mission
was to foster kindness toward people and animals, which was viewed as
integral to a civilizing ethic in society.
George T. Angell’s original concept of humane
education as a civilizing principle is not so different from how it is
presently defined. For example, the four core principles of humane
education for the International Institute for Humane Education are to:
Provide accurate information so that students understand the consequences of their decisions as consumers and citizens
Foster the 3 Cs: Curiosity, Creativity and
Critical Thinking so that students can evaluate information and solve
problems on their own
Instill the 3 Rs: Reverence, Respect and Responsibility so that students will act with kindness and integrity
Offer positive choices that benefit oneself,
other people, the earth and animals so that students feel empowered to
help create a more humane world
The animal protection movement calls upon
government and schools to incorporate humane education programs into the
curriculum at all levels (K-12) as an integral component to such
subject categories taught as social studies, science, language arts,
math and health as well as a topic in its own right. This will offer
students a comprehensive approach to understanding about animals, the
environment, sustainable and humane living, media literacy and human
We call upon government and schools to partner
with the animal protection movement to develop and expand the training
and certification of humane educators. Also, appropriate assessments
must be developed to ensure that humane education programs are
continuously improved. In short, humane education programs are uniquely
qualified to help society confront its many challenges.
Our call for tougher laws and stronger law
enforcement for animals must be part of a humane education program to
encourage responsible attitudes and practices by people of all ages and
in all sectors of society.
Establish and fund mandatory animal care
educational programs in schools, libraries and other public forums. Any
live animals included in such programs should be visitors, not full-time
residents, at the facilities.
Design and fund multi-media animal care
programs such as educational campaigns designed to promote responsible
companion animal acquisition, care and long-term guardianship.
Discourage the keeping of undomesticated exotics as pets and promote their preservation in native habitats.
Develop and fund humane education courses as part of the college and university curricula.