Parents at a Los Angeles elementary school were outraged to learn that PETA handed out cartoon pamphlets to their children that depicted dairy cows being electrocuted.
Children at Calabash Elementary School in Woodland Hills were given the graphic pamphlets, titled "A Cow's Life," on the same day that a baby cow was on campus for a lesson about dairy farming, a local CBS affiliate reported.
"My 6-year-old daughter … she started flipping through it and saw pictures of baby cows being electrocuted, factory farms with machetes, I mean, just graphically horrifying images for a 6-year-old," Claire Borsheim told the station.
Another parent, Tammy Apana-Dianda, told the Los Angeles Daily News that part of the problem is that no warning of PETA's presence was given by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
"They knew they were coming and didn't tell us. They have every one of our emails and phone numbers," she said. "That [PETA] stood in front of our school and put it right into the hands of our children, that's what has upset so many people."
However, the school district said it did not know in advance that there would be a PETA protest in front of the school.
"The fact they handed out their brochure, we were not expecting," said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo. "Unfortunately, what can we do? If they are on the sidewalk and doing this, it's a public place."
The district released the following statement, in part:
"No one at the school, or the District knew that animal activists would give children a comic book containing graphic images inserted of cows with a sore; an infection; chained and covered with fecal matter. The pictures are inappropriate for elementary students.
"Principal Esther Gillis would never have authorized the distribution of those pictures or the message that milk is unhealthy. L.A. Unified is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment at our schools," the statement read.
PETA said it the content of the material must have all been an innocent mix-up, and the pamphlets were meant to be educational.
"PETA creates material for kids and for adults," said PETA campaigner Katie Arth. "And it looks like there was just a mistake and our volunteers put the materials together to get them out quicker."
One of the students' parents, Mak Abromson, organized a Facebook page and is distributing fliers to parents, encouraging them to complain.
"Children are off-limits. These kids can't really process what they see, that's why we protect them and it's our job to teach them, not someone else. My daughter keeps asking questions. She keeps saying, 'The poor cow.' This sort of thing is really to terrify you, not to teach," she said, the Daily News reported.
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