Adolescents, Education and Farm Animal Welfare
University of London, United Kingdom
Adolescents are the next generation of consumers and caretakers of animals. The main focus of this PhD is on adolescents’ consumer role, through which they have the potential to raise standards of farm animal welfare — to their satisfaction — if their preferences and concerns are translated into accurate market drivers and signals. The capacity of education to facilitate this potential and UK adolescents’ (13-15 year old) views on farm animal welfare were investigated by: (1) benchmarking current UK adolescent beliefs about, attitudes to, knowledge of and relevant behavioural intention regarding farm animal welfare through a cross-sectional survey, and investigating which variables measured contribute to variation in the latter, and (2) examining the influence of three different educational strategies, chosen to capture the diverse ways farm animal welfare may be taught, on such variables.
Overall, adolescents care about farm animal welfare, but have limited knowledge of relevant welfare issues or product labels, and weak welfare-relevant behavioural intentions. Where occurring, education-associated alterations in measured variables were small and transient. Fundamentally, several barriers preventing welfare-positive behavioural change and adolescent engagement were common across studies and made it difficult to identify which, if any, educational approach was more effective. Barriers occurred at the level of: adolescents, e.g. disempowerment and low perceived topic relevance; teachers, e.g. lack of confidence in material delivery; and curriculum, e.g. overload and a strong assessment focus.
To produce individuals who make informed decisions matching their concern for farm animal welfare, and to avoid key farm animal welfare drivers being entirely lost or remaining dormant in disengaged individuals, educational resources must incorporate removal or challenge to identified barriers.
Journal articles from my PhD are as below:
J Jamieson, MJ Reiss, D Allen, L Asher, M.O. Parker, CM Wathes and SM Abeyesinghe. Adolescents care but don’t feel responsible for farm animal welfare. Society and Animals. Published online at http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/10.1163/15685306-12341283.
J Jamieson, MJ Reiss, D Allen, L Asher, CM Wathes and SM Abeyesinghe. (2012) Measuring the success of a farm animal welfare education event. Animal Welfare, 21: 65-75. [Article also featured in Veterinary Record 2012, 170: 263].
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