The number of children reporting animal neglect or injury has increased by 382% in the past five years
The number of children reporting animal neglect or injury has more than quadrupled in the past five years.
Since 2012 the number of youngsters call the Scottish SPCA has shot up by 382%.
The charity revealed the figures as evidence that animal welfare has a valuable role to play in school curriculum.
Back in 2010 when it launched its schools animal welfare education programme just 20 under 16s called the charity but that figure has now risen to 288 with the charity now speaking with around 300,000 children a year through its Prevention through Education programme.
The importance of animal welfare classes in school was further backed by research carried out by the charity along with the University of Edinburgh.
Researchers found that children were more empathetic towards animals after taking part in a workshop, a theory backed up by the fact that the majority of calls made to the Scottish SPCA from children related to injured animals.
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, head of education and policy at the Scottish SPCA, added: “The research has shown a clear increase in children’s knowledge about animal welfare following participation in our workshops.
“Our interactive programme encourages children to think about what animals need and they learn how they can be responsible towards animals they come across including pet, farm or wild animals.
“This is further evidence that the subject of animal welfare has a valuable role to play in school curriculum.”
Roxanne Hawkins PhD student at the University of Edinburgh added: “A key finding with this research is that following participation in some of the workshops there was a significant increase in children’s belief that animals have feelings.
“This finding is important as it means that hopefully by participating in animal welfare themed workshops the inclination to take part in motivated and unmotivated animal cruelty can be influenced.”
Dr Jo Williams, senior lecturer in clinical and health psychology, added: “Enhancing children’s knowledge of animal welfare and promoting compassion towards animals through education will not only enhance animal welfare and reduce cruelty, but might also increase compassion to other people.”