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Ethical issues concerning the public viewing of media broadcasts of animal cruelty

By C. M. Tiplady, D. B. Walsh, C. J. C. Phillips

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Undercover filming is a method commonly used by animal activist groups to expose animal cruelty and it is important to consider the effects of publically releasing video footage of cruel practices on the viewers' mental health. Previously, we reported that members of the Australian public were emotionally distressed soon after viewing media broadcasts of cruelty to Australian cattle exported for slaughter in Indonesia in 2011. To explore if there were any long term impacts from exposure to media on this issue, a self-selecting group of 15 people who were exposed to a documentary expose of the cruelty were re-interviewed 12 months later. Nearly all recalled their strong initial reaction to the footage. Approximately one half of the respondents who initially had had a strong emotional reaction to the footage reported negative reactions that were still strong even after this period of time. They reported potential triggers for these feelings. Of the rest, some managed to internalise their feelings. Approximately one half of respondents were unaware of continued live export exposes, suggesting less prominent media coverage. Despite the aversion and repulsion reported after viewing the initial coverage, most respondents said they would choose to watch another broadcast of animal cruelty and nearly all supported undercover investigations as a means of revealing cruelty to animals. We conclude that many people viewing footage of cruelty to animals will have long term memory of this, but that they would prefer to be informed about the issues and not be protected from them.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 635-645
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9547-x
Language English
Author Address Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abuse
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. APEC countries
  5. Australasia
  6. Australia
  7. Bovidae
  8. Cattle
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Constraints
  11. Countries
  12. Developed countries
  13. Emotions
  14. Ethics
  15. Mammals
  16. Media
  17. Oceania
  18. OECD countries
  19. opinions
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. public
  22. Ruminants
  23. slaughter
  24. ungulates
  25. vertebrates
  26. video recordings
  1. peer-reviewed