The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Child has formally added violence against animals to a list of unacceptable acts that a child should never have to witness.

It’s the first time that animal abuse has been elevated into the human rights domain in the UN’s legally binding Human Rights Charter — a move that also signals to participating States that preventing and ending animal abuse deserves increased and serious attention. 

The change came in the form of General Comment 26, which now reads, “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 growing number of studies — known as “link” studies — have established evidence that viewing or witnessing violence against animals can negatively impact the social development of children.  

The European Link Coalition, which has long championed for adding animal cruelty to the recognized list of inadmissible violences, said the addition has far-reaching implications.

“This should mean that no child can be taken trophy hunting, to attend bull fighting or animal sacrifice rituals,” said the Coalition’s Malcolm Plant.  “It should also mean creating laws to protect children from violence against animals within their homes.”

The Coalition also noted that governments that choose to ignore, or condone, exposing children to acts of violence against animals now could arguably be committing human rights violations.

Lady Freethinker applauds this momentous step toward ensuring that animal cruelty is perceived and recognized as intolerable. 

We hope that member States immediately enact concrete laws that will help ensure no child has to witness sadistic animal cruelty in its many forms — whether that’s youth forced to work in the dog and cat meat trades worldwide or children who view animal torture on social media platforms. 

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition urging accountability for online users who create and post videos of animal cruelty and for the social media platforms that promote and facilitate them. 

SIGN: Hold Social Media Platforms Accountable for Animal Torture