School crit­i­cized for kids’ visit to slaugh­ter­house

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD -

OSLO, NOR­WAY >> On Tues­day a group of 5-year-olds from a vil­lage in Nor­way went on a trip to a rein­deer slaugh­ter­house, part of a pro­gram to teach them about the ways of the Sami, an in­dige­nous peo­ple in Scan­di­navia who herd the an­i­mals.

But when school of­fi­cials posted pho­to­graphs from the trip on Face­book, it left many peo­ple, in Nor­way and else­where, aghast.

The pho­to­graphs showed the 15 chil­dren watch­ing as rein­deer car­casses hung from the ceil­ing of the slaugh­ter­house; out­side, blood­stained rein­deer furs were stacked up in the snow. One im­age showed a box con­tain­ing rein­deer hearts.

“Glad my kids do not at­tend such a kinder­garten,” Janne Iselin Dyb­dahl-Ihlen, a cook from Fredrik­stad, wrote on Face­book. “I have taught my kids to re­spect and love an­i­mals. An­i­mals are not for our plea­sure.

Kids usu­ally have a very em­pathic view on an­i­mals, some­thing you are try­ing to break down.”

A Ger­man woman, San­dra Zum­brock, wrote, “This is just sick.” An­other Nor­we­gian, Linn Emilia Olsen, de­scribed the im­ages as the “nor­mal­iza­tion of in­hu­man be­hav­ior.”

Oth­ers, like Jonas Gul­stad Op­sal, an ac­tor from Steinkjer, said there was noth­ing to fuss over.

“It is food, Mrs. Dyb­dahlIhlen,” he wrote on Face­book. “Many of the kids in that kinder­garten will be­come food pro­duc­ers, so this is some­thing they have to learn to re­late to.”

The Granstubben school, in the vil­lage of Hen­ning in cen­tral Nor­way, found it­self del­uged by calls af­ter the lo­cal news­pa­per re­ported on the pho­to­graphs and the story went vi­ral.

“We are over­whelmed by the at­ten­tion,” Dag Olav Stolan, di­rec­tor of the school, which ed­u­cates chil­dren ages 2 to 6, said by phone Fri­day evening. “We are just a small kinder­garten in a small coun­try­side vil­lage in Nor­way.”

Par­ents sup­port­ive

By the mid­dle of the week, Stolan felt ob­li­gated to post English and Ger­man trans­la­tions of the school’s post on Face­book, and Stolan found him­self field­ing calls from jour­nal­ists around the world.

Par­ents came to the school’s de­fense.

Anette Knut­sen said her daugh­ter came home from the ex­cur­sion beam­ing. “So much to tell about,” Knut­sen said. “Great idea, from a great kinder­garten.”

An­other par­ent, Kristin Dahlo, said she was glad her daugh­ter at­tended the school. Too many peo­ple do not know the ori­gins of the food they are eat­ing, she said.

Stolan said that delet­ing the post was out of the ques­tion. “This is what we stand for,” he said.

“Bring­ing the kids to see how meat is pro­duced is part of the up­bring­ing,” he said.

Rein­deer herds graze in the moun­tains around Hen­ning, and many of the an­i­mals are slaugh­tered ev­ery year when they come down from the moun­tain.

This week was not the first time stu­dents had been brought to ob­serve the slaugh­ter, Stolan said.

“None of the kids ac­tu­ally get to see the mo­ment the an­i­mal is killed, and we asked all the par­ents for their con­sent be­fore we went,” Stolan said. One par­ent asked that her child not visit the slaugh­ter­house, he said.

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