Should we censor the natural world from our children?

This is something I’ve been unsure to write about, because I know it will be something that people may have a strong opinion about. I’m really passionate about animal conservation, it’s one of the major driving forces behind the travels we have planned over the next few years, because I want my children to be passionate about it as well. After all, they belong to the generation we are leaving our planet to and I feel it is important that they understand we share the planet with countless other species.

 

Should we censor our children from the natural world?
Image courtesy of shutterstock.com/Sunnystudios

 

 

We watch a lot of animal documentaries in our house and the boys love watching them. We sit together and talk about the different animals, where they live and where appropriate why they won’t be around for much longer without some help to protect them and their habitat. The other day we were watching a documentary about Great White Sharks, Bear is obsessed with sharks at the moment, so he was completely engrossed. During the documentary, there was a clip of a Great White Shark jumping out of the water and catching a seal. I explained that like us, sharks are carnivores and to survive they have to eat other animals, in this case a seal. Bear took it on board, wasn’t phased by it and I didn’t think much of it. That was until I mentioned that we had watched it to a few Mums I know and they looked at me like I had just told them I had let him watch The Chainsaw Massacre.

 

In my mind I didn’t see anything wrong with Bear watching an animal documentary, I mean the other day we saw a crow eating a smaller bird in the garden, it’s nature. Some animals eat other animals to survive, we eat other animals, to me it seems irresponsible to shield my children from that fact, while feeding them chicken, pig, cow and duck on a daily basis. I’ve always watched animal documentaries, I’ve always had stacks of books about the animal kingdom and I believe, if anything, it has made me more conscious of how delicate our planet and the food chains it supports are. If anything that exposure has driven me to help protect other species and talk about why I do that with my children.

 

Recently we visited the World Museum in Liverpool, where they have a Natural world exhibit. Part of this exhibit is the recreated scene of a lion chasing a zebra, which lots of parents and young children were stood looking at. We often take trips to Chester zoo, where on occasion we see part of a carcass in the lion enclosure. I mean admittedly it isn’t a devoured wildebeast, but a stripped leg of something, but again people crowd around with their children and watch the lion eat a big slab of meat, without blinking an eye.

Natural World Museum - Liverpool 

 

I understand and agree that children need to be censored from a number of things in order to preserve their childhood, but it seems irresponsible to shield them from the natural world. To hide them from the reality of what eating meat means, the death of another living, breathing organism. To me it seems an odd notion to stop them understanding the natural world, because if they don’t fully understand it, how will they become passionate about it and if they aren’t passionate about it, will they want to protect it?

 

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26 thoughts on “Should we censor the natural world from our children?

  1. I am totally with you, all of my children watch the nature programs and love them. My daughter especially is concerned about animals in the wild and her god-father has sponsored a Gorilla for her which she gets regular updates about x

  2. I have never heard of this before. I want my daughter to know everything about the world and then she can make informed decisions and opinions however it does need to be done appropriately with little children.

  3. I don’t think we should censor them from it, if he was to ask you to turn it off or became upset about it then I would but otherwise I think it is natural learning x

  4. I totally agree, we go a step further as we understand that the meat we eat is killing the world and using water resources, land resources that is unsustainable for the future of our kids. My daughter will know about factory farming and deforestation and how much water one burger equates to. (Two months of showers).
    Compassion and kindness helps our kids understand the world.
    Be true to them as you are doing. 💚💚

  5. This is so interesting. It’s funny the things people think we should sensor. I think anything to do with the natural world should be taught to our children. They need to know about the world and how it works. Most of us eat meat too, so we definitely shouldn’t sensor other animals in their natural environment hunting. xx

  6. I think that not telling your children the realities of the natural world is effectively a form of lying. That said, I think communication needs to be pitched at the right level. We have always been quite matter of fact about animals being food for us and each other.

  7. As a child I loved nothing more than watching natural world programs and although I was upset at the thought of an animal dying to be food for another, children need to learn about it and should not be protected from it

  8. Nothing wrong with them being exposed to this at all. Mine love these types of documentaries too and like you say, we eat animals and animals eating other animals is just part of how the world works. But some children do find that type of scene distressful. My daughter who’s 11 has an irrational fear of sharks so that particular programme may have been a no from us. Also my twins get a little upset when they see an animal being chased then caught. I must admit to always feeling sorry for the caught animal too! But i think that’s a natural reaction!! Great post x

  9. I’m totally with you on this, and also advocate people examining the nature around them – I believe that a child picking a flower or catching a newt develops a true love of the natural world, and that this can only be a benefit 🙂

  10. I am a vegetarian and am open with my children as to where their food comes from. I think we should respect the food chain and value the animals on the planet. I wouldn’t want my kids to see anything too graphic (blood etc in a documentary) but they should know that it happens

  11. I think allowing your children to witness the natural world is a great thing, they should learn how things work. There are certain things children should be sheltered from, I don’t think nature is one of them. I wholeheartedly agree with your decision to let your kids get involved with the aspect of life.

    Katie xoxo

  12. We try and watch animal documentaries, but if anything it’s me that gets upset, I am a big softie under the tough cookie exterior! 😉 Children should be aware of such things as the food chain etc. My daughter attends a church school and believes in evolution over creationism… totally her call on that one and I respect she made that decision of her own accord. She is totally with it, so I have no problem at all with her learning about how the world and wildlife evolve around us – a lovely post xx Sim

  13. We watch a lot of nature programmes as a family and have no issue with them learning about nature and the way of the world. Obviously I wouldn’t want them to be upset by anything they see but within reason, it IS natural.

  14. We try not to censor our son but on occasion we do. This will only be if he starts to become afraid or scared at what he’s seeing but we try judge his reaction to things and then either continue or stop the programme. Sometimes he’s unfazed, sometimes not. But either way I’ll he teaching him more about our world and conservation as he grows.

  15. Oh wow, they looked at you like you’d let your child watch chainsaw massacre? For real? It’s life… we eat meat on a daily basis… it’s everywhere… but because it’s already packaged it isn’t associated with where it came from. Actually, my 7 year old asked me today why we haven’t seen any baby sheep for ages. I did give her the fluffy talk that they grow up quicker than humans do and didn’t really think about telling her what happens in some cases.
    I don’t think shielding children from the reality of nature will ever do them any good. It’s the food chain.

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