A study commissioned by the Hunting Heritage Trust in cooperation with the National Shooting Sports Foundation looked at "Understanding the Impact of Peer Influence on Youth Participation in Hunting and Target Shooting." It included two focus groups and a nationwide phone survey.
This study examined how youth aged 8-17 perceive shooting and hunting and the role that peers have on their attitudes. There was more support for shooting than hunting among the respondents, with 52 percent having a strongly or moderately positive attitude toward shooting but only 38 percent having a positive attitude toward hunting. Forty-six percent of respondents had a strongly or moderately negative attitude toward hunting.
The survey found that "hunting was the activity for which the largest percentage of youth respondents said they had a strongly or moderately negative opinion." It is particularly interesting to note the difference between target shooting, which receives majority support, and hunting, which is supported by a smaller proportion of youths. The difference, of course, is that one activity involves shooting targets and the other involves shooting live animals, which is a source of reluctance for many young people.
Specifically, two-thirds of the youths who have a negative opinion of hunting (65 percent) said the reason is because they do not like killing animals. Moreover, while most young people think hunting is acceptable for others, a large proportion of them (40 percent) feels that hunting is "maybe a little inappropriate nowadays." A strong majority of young people (59 percent) believe that legal hunting causes some species to become endangered. These findings suggest that opinions among youths are trending against hunting animals as an acceptable activity, despite intensive efforts by pro-hunting groups to encourage young people to participate in hunting.
This trend may be due in part to the continuing urbanization of the U. S. population, but it also suggests a growing discomfort among youths when it comes to killing animals for sport. Research has shown repeatedly that young people naturally have positive and altruistic feelings toward nonhuman animals, though this study indicates that peer pressure is also important. The question for animal advocates is how to encourage youths to maintain that feeling of altruism through the process of aging, socialization and formal education. The first step may be doing some in-depth research of our own, from an animal protection perspective.
This research nutshell comes from Che Green at HRC in partnership with the Animals and Society Institute (ASI), an organization dedicated to policy-oriented research and human-animal studies. HRC and ASI already collaborate on multiple projects and we will work together to identify important studies for future research nutshells.
See the original post here.