Listen to the matters of the heart in children
February 16, 2018
Since 2011, I have been running SALI's Farm Program. For what it's worth, this is what I have learned.
There is a link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. Children who are exposed to violence and trauma are at an increased risk to perpetrate animal cruelty and violence. The recent shooter in Florida had a history of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is part of the triad for warning signs of a child who has been abused. The triad is:
(1) Bet wetting
(2) Animal Cruelty
(3) Fire setting
Before his rampage, I would have had a boat load of empathy for him. "Douglas High has a place students call 'the Emo Gazebo. That’s where all the kids that are considered weird or not accepted sat. Kids at the Emo Gazebo didn’t even accept him there. He was just an outcast... He didn’t have any friends." https://www.thedailybeast.com/nick-cruz-parkland-f...
But, it's too late for empathy now, he has caused too much pain and grief. He's now in the hands of the Criminal Justice System.
What's your go to ice breaker at a cocktail party - "what do you do?" Often I ask, "did you have someone 2-legged or 4-legged that made a difference in your life?" It has been proven that all a child needs is one adult or one animal who believes in her/him. If a child never finds anyone, this is when they can turn and hurt themselves, others or animals.
We need to do a better job of helping at-risk children heal from trauma. Their pain is hidden. They cannot go to the hospital. I want to encourage our community to listen to the matters of the heart in our children.
The purpose of SALI’s Farm is to provide a safe haven for at-risk children and rescued farm animals to bond, learn, and heal with one another. Children that have experienced such trauma often have trouble coping, and are at an increased risk of developing social and behavioural issues later, such as mental health issues, substance abuse, bullying, violence, & crime, among other things. Furthermore, violence often becomes an intergenerational cycle, where the victim either exhibits violence or continues to be a victim of violence. Effective interventions – such as programs like SALI’s Farm – help to break that cycle. The children participate in various animal and horticultural activities which have a powerful healing effect on children. The activities are designed to facilitate empathy, because one of the most common components of violence is the lack of empathy.
SALI's mission is to support the human/animal bond. Rescuing animals and then pairing them with children who have experienced trauma, provides the opportunity for both to heal and create a strong bond between them. We believe this bond will last throughout the child's life as opposed to human bonds, which are more fragile. These children will grow up with more compassion, empathy, and a concern for the environment, thereby making this a better community for all.
Thank you to all our supporters and volunteers who have helped over 200 children in Surrey heal. You are the local heroes who go beyond thoughts and prayers and give up your time and money to make a difference.