Saturday, 16 November 2013

Kiss the Pig Contests, Cheap Laughs and Bullying (Op-Ed)

Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is one of the world's pioneering cognitive ethologists, a Guggenheim Fellow, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This essay is adapted from one that appeared in Bekoff's columnAnimal Emotions in Psychology Today. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Given that schools rightfully aspire to zero tolerance for bullying, they should be at the forefront of encouraging students to be respectful to each other, to their teachers and to all those around them, human and nonhuman alike.

So, why are schools (and other organizations) holding events such as "kiss the pig" contests to reward students for reading or to motivate them for fundraising efforts? Such spectacles send the reckless message that stunts based on contempt and ridicule are not only condoned but also encouraged. While I fully realize that many people who dream up and partake in these contests see them as being "fun", if they knew about the stress experienced by the pig I'm sure they'd recognize the harm that's being done.

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