PETA Responds After Two Teens Set Opossum on Fire


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After two South Carolina teens were seen in a social media video setting a young opossum on fire, residents across the state were stunned. The teens were charged with felony III mistreatment of animals. The footage was deemed too disturbing for news channels to air. The teens are shown chasing the likely terrified and confused little animal, whom they soak with lighter fluid, set on fire, kick, and stomp on.

screenshot of a social media video showing a young person backing away from a burst of flames

When young people torture and kill an animal and then gloat about it on social media, that’s a clear sign that swift intervention is needed. TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—stands ready to assist South Carolina schools in cultivating compassion in their students, which could save animals’ lives and help all young people achieve their full compassionate potential.

TeachKind has already sent urgent letters to the leaders of nearby South Carolina school districts stressing the need for humane education.

After an Opossum Was Set on Fire, TeachKind Advised South Carolina Schools

TeachKind’s letters to administrators provide them with access to animal-friendly educational materials, including Empathy Now (a guide to preventing violence by young people) and Challenging Assumptions, which helps students examine discrimination and other social justice issues.

TeachKind is also offering copies of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassionby PETA President Ingrid Newkirk to the districts’ high schools. This essential resource provides readers with a wealth of information on other animals and reveals how to ensure that the species we share the world with are protected and respected.

Download Empathy Now

Violence to Animals Is Only the Beginning

Many abusers first commit acts of violence against other animals before setting their sights on humans.

Sandy Hook Promise includes cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list, and research shows that approximately 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals. That’s why animal abusers pose a serious threat to communities at large.

TeachKind’s resources are easy to integrate into schools’ existing curricula to help prevent future violence.

Youth Violence Can Be Prevented

Not every student receives lessons in kindness and compassion at home, which is why it’s up to schools to fill in those gaps. TeachKind is here to help teachers and school administrators do just that.

“Compassion can be cultivated,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind stands ready to help schools teach their students that every sentient being, be they an opossum or a classmate, deserves empathy and respect.”

If you’re an educator or know someone who is, visit TeachKind.org to download free humane education materials:



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