Chicago high school students interested in learning more about animal welfare still have time to sign up for a special after school program that looks at the connection between animal cruelty and violence toward people. The Anti-Cruelty Society’s “Exploring the Link” program is taking online registration for the fall semester.
“There is a researched and documented connection between animal cruelty and violence towards people,” says Tatiana Garrett director of community outreach for the organization. “This multi-faceted program helps give the students the tools they need to interact in a positive way and make a difference.”
Exploring the Link
Students in the program are able to meet and talk to domestic violence workers, learn about animal-focused careers and interact with and help socialize the animals at ACS. The program focuses on building understanding about bullying and anti-violence and helps give the participants the tools they need to make changes in their own behavior.
“For many students, this is the first time they’ve connected with animals in a positive way,” adds Garrett. “Our goal in this program is to get them to connect with the animals and empathize with them so they learn that violence against animals is not right. We want them to come full circle to realize that they deserve the same respect – to not be bullied.”
Each semester, about 25 to 30 Chicago high school students sign up for the program that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. In Chicago, many of the participants have witnessed dogfighting and other cases of animal cruelty. Garrett says many students that she’s worked with in programs for younger students also make the connection.
Making the connection
“I did a program with middle school kids in which they picked a legal topic and had to go to the courtroom and learn more about it,” says Garrett. “A young man at their school had tick marks on his locker tracking the number of cats he had killed in his neighborhood. No one intervened. He ended up getting into a fight over the summer and killing someone with a gun.”
The middle school students saw the warning signs and new this wasn’t normal behavior. They wanted to learn more about how to change their behavior in the future. Students in the high school program also make the same association.
Register through September 24
The Anti-Cruelty Society will be taking registration through September 24 and the program begins on October 4. Participants get a CTA voucher to get them to and from the program and also receive either stipend or service learning credit for their time. Learn more about the program or register online. Also follow the Anti-Cruelty Society on Facebook and Twitter.