The impact of the ‘prevention through education’ intervention on children's knowledge, attitudes, belief in animal mind and empathy towards animals

Roxanne Hawkins, Joanne Williams

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


Animal welfare education aims to promote positive relationships between children and animals thus improving animal welfare, yet few scientific evaluations of these programmes exist. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an animal welfare education programme, ‘Prevention through Education’ developed by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA).

The intervention workshops, for children aged 7-12 years, were
designed to address children’s knowledge about the welfare needs of animals as well as encouraging empathy and positive attitudes towards animals. Key factors including: knowledge about animals, empathy towards animals, attitudes and feelings of responsibility towards animals, beliefs about animal mind and attitudes towards animal cruelty, were assessed using a self-complete questionnaire administered to a large sample of over 1000 primary school aged children across Scotland. A pre-test, post-test and delayed post-test method was employed and test schools were compared to control schools.

Results from the evaluation indicate positive changes in the factors relating to child-animal relationships. Children who participated in the programme immediately improved in knowledge about animals, knowledge about the Scottish SPCA, scored higher on beliefs about animal mind, improved on attitudes towards animals and feelings of responsibility towards wild and farm animals and were less accepting of animal cruelty.

The study highlights the importance of teaching animal welfare
education to primary school children for the prevention of animal cruelty. The programme overall, demonstrates the scope to integrate the topic of animal welfare into mainstream education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event14th Triennial IAHAIO International Conference: Unveiling a New Paradigm: HAI in the Mainstream - Paris, France
Duration: 11 Jul 201613 Jul 2016 (Conference website.)


Conference14th Triennial IAHAIO International Conference
Internet address


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