There has been a 340 percent rise in reports of ‘brutal cruelty’ witnessed by children on Snapchat, according to the RSPCA.
The number of animal cruelty reports coming from children on Snapchat more than doubled.
In 2015, the charity received 27 reports of animal cruelty after parents or their children saw videos on the popular mobile phone app, Snapchat.
By last year, that had increased by 155 percent to 69 complaints from people who had witnessed animal cruelty on Snapchat.
So far this year, the emergency cruelty line has already received 119 complaints – still with a few months to go.
The RSPCA Special Operations Unit (SOU) said they fear the social media platform makes the people creating these horrifying videos and images feel ‘invincible and untraceable’ because the post disappears after 10 seconds.
One of the SOU intelligence officers – who can’t be named – said: “What’s even more concerning than the 340 percent increase in reports of videos of animal cruelty on Snapchat in just two years, is the level of cruelty being seen.
“While many of these videos show acts of animal cruelty that are at the lower end of severity – such as teenagers chasing geese or throwing stones at birds – a worrying number of them show serious acts of brutality.
“When you consider that Snapchat is particularly popular with children and young teenagers, it’s particularly troubling that they could easily be witnessing animals being beaten, tortured and even killed in graphic detail.
“Not only are young people seeing these heinous acts but, most of the time, it’s also young people who are witnessed in the videos carrying out these sickening incidents or are often the ones who share them.
“Not only are these savage attacks on defenceless and vulnerable animals, but videos often include youngsters laughing as they inflict the injuries or text layered over the top suggest that they find it entertaining.
“Because of the way Snapchat works, kids are using the platform to share these videos as they feel invincible and, wrongly, think it’s untraceable. But, if reported to us by children who have seen the videos or by worried parents, we do have tools which enable us to trace those responsible in most cases.”
Dave Allen, RSPCA head of education and advice, said: “We’re not out to prosecute these children but we’ll act when we’re aware of violence against an animal or any form of cruelty.
“We’d prefer to educate children to ensure they understand that being cruel or causing unnecessary suffering to an animal is not funny and is wrong.
“The increase in the number of these shocking videos on Snapchat shows that there’s a culture of cruelty developing on these social media platforms and it’s important that we work with other agencies to put a stop to that.
“That’s why we would like to see animal welfare included as part of the National Curriculum.”