For a variety of cultural, religious, political and economic reasons, violence toward animals and people is common in the underserved Arab areas in Israel. Skeletal and diseased dogs are tied to short chains or roam the neighborhoods. Cats search garbage cans for food. Children and adults often deliberately harm them. Many of these children are victims as well, facing violence at home or on the streets.
CHAI’s innovative educational program for Arab schools is changing this tragic picture. We teach young people kindness to every living being. Studies have proven the link between violence toward animals and toward humans. By teaching students to treat all creatures with empathy and respect, CHAI’s Expanding the Circle of Compassion program is transforming how young people relate to others – human and non-human. Learn more in our home page video.
“Humane education provides an opportunity to question who and what we call ‘other’ and to find out just how inclusive our circle of compassion can be.” Rae Sikora, CHAI board member and leading humane educator
These experiences enable young people to gain new insight into those they view as “other,” such as foreigners and animals. Research shows that empathy for animals developed through humane education transfers to fellow humans.
The program includes a variety of activities that engage students and enable them to imagine themselves in the place of others who are different. They visualize themselves as a caged animal and express their feelings. They are crowded together like chickens in battery cages, slither on the ground like snakes, act out the roles of rescuers transporting a mother cat and kittens from a burning building to a vet and then to loving homes.
They draw concentric circles in which they place humans and/or animals close to or far from them according to their ability to feel compassion for each one, and consider their reasons. As they learn how much we all have in common and the value of diversity, their drawings are transformed. They practice critical thinking skills to align their daily choices with their beliefs and thereby build a more compassionate world for all.
An independent evaluation proved that the program is achieving its goals to reduce violence. The evaluation team credited the program with:
- Preventing or stopping violence to animals
- Reducing violence between students
- Instilling in students empathy, respect and responsibility and other invaluable character traits
- Identifying children at risk of future violence
See what administrators, teachers and students are saying. Participating schools are located in northern and central Israel. We have a waiting list of schools. Please donate now to bring this life-saving program to more children.