See update at end of this post about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offering to donate "virtual dissection equipment" to Newport-Mesa schools.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 3, 2:15 P.M.: The nonprofit pressuring Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials to intervene to stop Newport Harbor High School students from posting Facebook photos of themselves playing with dead cats has now turned to the social network for help. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) also emailed the Weekly a sampling of what are alleged to be these very disturbing photos, which you'll find after the jump with this strict warning: you may lose your appetite or, if you've already eaten, your lunch.
Some photos came from this December Facebook post:
Human faces are blurred in the following Facebook close-ups to protect possible minors. They are being presented in order of best to worst to stomach (in my humble opinion), with page breaks in between in case anyone wants to bail before scrolling down farther.
The Weekly reported last Tuesday that Washington, D.C.-based PCRM, which opposes vivisection and promotes healthy eating, medical ethics and alternatives to animal research, sent a letter and photos to Newport-Mesa officials recommending that the district interview the Newport Harbor science lab teacher, suspend the use of animal carcasses in classes and send the involved students to a psychologist for evaluation.
Now, Leslie Rudloff, senior counsel with PCRM, has fired off a letter to Facebook's content editor urging the immediate removal of the images sampled above and others, citing the following from the social network's graphic content policy:
"[A]ny inappropriately graphic content will be removed when found on the site. Sadistic displays of violence against people or animals, or depictions of sexual assault, are prohibited."
Rudloff goes on to claim many students and parents are alarmed by the images, and that young people showing such callousness toward dead animals can experience future behavior problems if these issues are not addressed.
If Facebook does not remove the images, they could be perceived as being approved by the social network, encouraging others to post even more graphic photos of dead animals, Rudloff adds.
"We strongly recommend that Facebook not only immediately remove the above photographs and comments in accordance with its graphic content policy," Rudloff writes, "but also immediately remove any photographs or posts involving abuse, cruelty, or callousness toward animals in the future."
The full letter follows . . .
UPDATE, JULY 3, 2:19 P.M.: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent a letter to David L. Brooks, president of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees, urging the district to replace cat dissections in classrooms with the Norfolk, Virginia-based animal rights group's "virtual dissection equipment."
"Trying to teach kids science with mutilated animal bodies is cruel and ineffective--and as the incidents at Newport Harbor show, it can also foster callousness toward animals," says Kathy Guillermo, PETA's associate sirector of Laboratory Investigations, in a statement emailed to the Weekly. "PETA is standing by to help any and all schools make the transition to using vastly superior--and kinder--non-animal teaching methods."
The group claims its donated virtual dissection equipment "has been shown to teach students better than animal dissection."
"Comparative studies have repeatedly shown that non-animal teaching methods, such as interactive computer programs, are more effective at teaching biology than crude animal-based methods," reads the statement. "These programs also save time and money and increase student confidence and satisfaction. The National Science Teachers Association endorses the use of modern non-animal methods as complete replacements for animal dissection."
A link was provided to this video demonstration of the virtual dissection software:
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Addressing the PETA letter to Brooks is interesting because his initial reaction to the Harbor High students' treatment of dissected cats was, essentially, that it sounded like kids being kids. Read his reaction here: