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Book Chapter

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From the earliest years of organized animal protection in North America, humane education— the attempt to inculcate the kindness-to-animals ethic through formal or informal instruction of children— has been cast as a fruitful response to the challenge of reducing the abuse and neglect of animals. Yet, almost 140 years after the movement’s formation, humane education remains largely the province of local societies for the prevention of cruelty and their educational divisions—if they have such divisions. Efforts to institutionalize the teaching of humane treatment of animals within the larger framework of the American educational establishment have had only limited success. Moreover, knowledge, understanding, and empirical measures of the impact of humane education remain limited. In many respects humane education is best seen as an arena of untapped potential rather than one of unfulfilled promise.