HORRIFIC video of animal cruelty and suffering are being seen by children across the county through social media.

Of the 5000 videos reported to the RSPCA every year showing animal cruelty, 400 come from the South West. Since 2016, 100 posts on social media came from Wiltshire.

The animal charity wants animal welfare to be taught in schools to promote animal welfare.

Over 28 per cent of children aged between 10 and 18 in the South west have witnessed neglect or animal cruelty on social media and nearly eight per cent of people had seen cruelty take place in person.

Chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “The number of children seeing animal abuse online is shocking - the current generation of children are witnessing horrifying animal cruelty and neglect through channels which simply didn’t exist for previous generations.

“The risk for children growing up in the 21st century is that frequent and casual exposure to animal abuse will desensitise them and may even make it seem acceptable. Animals need us now more than ever and we want to grow a new generation of young people who care, who are informed and who want to do their best for animals.

“This is why we are launching Generation Kind - an ambitious education programme targeting school children, children in care, young offenders or those at risk of offending and other disadvantaged young people. Central to this is a new campaign to get animal welfare taught in all schools.

“This is the most important campaign we have ever undertaken. We are fighting animal abuse and neglect every day but we can only do so much. If we can foster empathy and responsibility towards animals in the consumers, politicians and decision makers of tomorrow, we can create a society which is truly kinder to animals.”

Nine Generation Kind projects have been launched to reach children of all ages and include work with disadvantaged young people and traumatised dogs to encourage empathy for animals. Dogs have been helped by young people to overcome their trauma through the scheme. Children in care will work with the charity and the Great Debates project encourages children aged between 11 and 14 to think critically about animal welfare.