John: The Boy Who Threw Stones at Animals

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This is NOT a picture of John, but a kid throwing a stone into a pond
This is NOT a picture of John, but a kid throwing a stone into a pond

I am sure that you are a kind and loving person towards birds, animals and reptiles (and spiders).  I have told this true story to my students and I hope you will pass the message on.  It is all about understanding a creature.

True Story:

Some years ago, I stood watching from my window.  I saw something that really upset me.  My neighbour’s son, John, was throwing stones at a squirrel that was sitting on a tree branch.

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Normally, John was a nice boy and we threw ball to one another.  I liked him and he liked me – but this time, it was different.  I had to go downstairs and talk to John.

I asked John to stand against the wall so that I could throw stones at him. (Of course, I would not do such a thing, I just wanted to see his reaction).

John told me, “You can’t do THAT!”                                                                      “Why not?” I asked, “You are throwing stones at an animal!”                                   “But that’s different!” John said.

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I asked him, “If I threw a stone at you and it hit your eye, would it hurt?” “Yes!” agreed John.                                                                                                  “And if your eye was bleeding what would happen?
John thought for a moment.  “My parents would take me to the hospital!” “And if your stone hit the squirrel’s eye, who would take it to the hospital?”                                                                                                           John looked puzzled.  “No one, I guess!”                                                         I continued.  “And if your eye was so painful, what would happen?”
John looked uncomfortable.  “The doctor would give me medicine!”
“And who gives this squirrel pain killers or other medicine?”
John looked at the ground.  I knew he felt guilty.

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I said gently, “Without medicine that squirrel would be in pain all night and maybe into the next day.  He might even go blind.”

I knew John had learned a lesson, because he said, “I’m sorry.”

An injured bird cannot feed the babies
An injured bird cannot feed the babies

Then he said, “That would be the same for dogs or cats or birds.  Stones could hurt them, too!”     I told him that an injured animal or bird cannot feed their young. The young might die!

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“That’s right, John.  If you see kids doing these things, tell them the reason not to hurt animals!”
John nodded.

I told him that at the beach, I often saw kids throwing stones at seagulls.

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John told me about kids he knew that used sling shots at birds and animals.  I told him to speak with them.  Maybe, they could use other targets such as tin cans or a wooden board.

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I looked at John’s sorry face.   I said, “So John, want to play baseball throw and catch?”
John beamed with happiness.  “I’ll get my baseball mitt and ball.”

Over the years, I have talked to John.  He told me that he has stopped kids from throwing stones at animals and birds. animal.  John seemed to look at nature differently since our talk.  I’ve seen him in the garden just looking at spider webs and watching wasps and bees without harming them.  I think he has realized respect for all living things.

Pauline