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On Kid Nation-WTF?

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here because I have never actually seen Kid Nation. But for what I will address, it doesn’t matter (you’ll see why).

All you need to know for now: Last week, the kids killed chickens and ate them.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • I heard two things: they killed them because they needed protein (that’s all over the website) and they killed them because they wanted chicken soup (that’s more like what they say in the clips). Apparently, the kids had access to nuts, beans and whole grains, and didn’t actually need to kill anyone. Why didn’t they think they had enough protein in their diets already? Where did that come from? The only close-to justification for killing a chicken would have been a B12 deficiency, and even over the course of the entire show (40 days), the kids wouldn’t have suffered from that yet. Did they just have a hankerin’ fer some chicken soup? If they were having the protein discussion, they clearly weren’t qualified enough and in that case it was unethical for CBS to allow that discussion to continue without telling the children that they do indeed have all the protein they need.
  • As soon as I heard about the show I immediately knew that it would eventually come around to food and slaughter. After all, this is a reality show we’re talking about, and it is on CBS, which is a fan of slaughtering animals for ratings, as they have on Survivor.
  • To put children in a position to come to care for nonhuman animals (that part is important, as it makes it far worse for the kids who cared) and then corner them so they think that they must kill those animals has got to be traumatic for them. And for all those who say the kids voted to kill the chickens, from what I understand it was the kids who didn’t have a relationship with the chickens who convinced the rest that the chickens needed to die.
  • Part of me wants to say: GREAT! Now maybe they’ll all go vegan because they see what must happen to get their chicken soup. But even if that did happen–and it didn’t–I ultimately don’t agree with what actually occurred.
  • Did the kids who cared about the chickens eat the soup? Some kids can easily be persuaded to forget about a principle they were beginning to develop, and I’d hate to think that something like that occurred here. And for what? Ratings? Shame on CBS.

For all of you who have seen the show? What do you think?

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ellie #

    I didn't watch it, Mary, as I was sure the children would decide to kill the chickens, just like the adults on Survivor. If they let the chickens live, it wouldn't speak well for the meat industries that sponsor CBS– which leads me to wonder about purpose here. Besides the impact this had on the children involved, are they not sending a message to viewers (children and adults alike) that it's ok to kill? I don't know what other food was available to them, but if it was a question of nutrition, I think CBS had an obligation to give these children and their viewers the facts.

    When I saw this on Survivor, I wrote to CBS. A lot of good that did, obviously.

    September 30, 2007
  2. Meat Eater #

    Interestingly Skewed Commentary.

    My grandmother tells me of chicken slaughter day.

    Before the 1960's In rural Texas, everyone was responsible for producing their own meat. When my MOM and her siblings were growing up, they raised their own chickens.
    The children were responsible for caring for the chickens… feeding them, giving them water, picking off parasites and allowing them a fenced in area for roaming.
    When "Fryer Day" came up twice a year, the chickens were rounded up and slaughtered (the head was chopped off on a wood block). My grandfather would chop off the heads of the chickens, while my grandmother, my mom, aunts and uncles would clean the chickens and pluck off the pin feathers.

    After that, they would be rubbed in salt stored in a giant freezer and cooked as needed.

    I know that the children were not "scarred" or "tortured" in any way, for now they are successful college educated adults with grown children of their own whom are also successful and college educated. They also treat others (both human and animal) with respect and kindness.

    September 30, 2007
  3. meat eater #


    ""To put children in a position to come to care for nonhuman animals (that part is important, as it makes it far worse for the kids who cared) and then corner them so they think that they must kill those animals has got to be traumatic for them.""

    No, it is just part of every day survival. In the past children grew up connected to the earth and the plants and animals we eat for food. It was just like doing the laundry or picking vegetables out of the garden…everyday life for them.
    Now, children just think food comes from the store.

    My parents, grandparents and aunts/uncles knew that if they did not kill the chickens they would not be eating chicken every Sunday for half a year!

    We in this processed and pre-packaged world of modern day America are spoiled by having any kind of food we want at our fingertips. Most people in this world do not have that luxury and survive much in the manner I mentioned above (in the previous post).

    September 30, 2007
  4. Ellie #

    Graduating from college is only one measure of success in some (but not all) cultures, and at that, it's not the most important measure, by any means. In remote cultures, meat eating might be a matter of survival, but when you can eat varied and nutritious plant foods, it's not.

    September 30, 2007
  5. Ellie #


    Killing animals for the taste of meat is neither respectful or kind.

    September 30, 2007
  6. Funny, kids that don't eat meat seem to survive just fine. One college professor of my aquaintance hasn't eaten any meat at all in her entire life.

    We can either teach kids to kill animals, or not. But the necessity argument just doesn't play. They only thing I would agree with is that kids should know, physically and tangibly, that they are eating living animals.

    October 1, 2007
  7. Canaduck #

    I knew as soon as I heard about this that there would be a handful of yokels insisting that they'd killed their own chickens/pigs/cows/etc and it helped to teach them about real life, and don't we realize how separated we are from what we eat now, etc. Of course, if the kids were really going to learn about where meat comes from, they should have had them briefly employed in a slaughterhouse, where they would kill their deformed, terrified chickens by hanging them upside down, slitting their throats in a haphazard, assembly-line fashion, and then dunking their fully conscious bodies into boiling water.

    That said, these children have learned that humans have a right to take animal lives when it isn't necessary. I'm not talking about a situation where meat is required for survival–I'm talking about situations like that on Kid Nation. They could have easily prepared vegetarian food, but instead they opted to kill an animal. Why do it if you don't have to?

    October 1, 2007
  8. Ellie #

    Yes, I don't know what plant foods were available, but CBS is not going to set up a program where kids could become malnourished. They also didn't choose vegetarian kids for the program, or I think we'd have heard about it. No doubt, CBS selected participants carefully. It figures they chose kids who said they'd be willing to kill animals, and others who'd be willing to go along with it. Seems to me the message is clearly pro animal agriculture.

    October 2, 2007
  9. Ellie #

    Just found this on TV Squad…. there is one child on Kid Nation who really cares about the chickens. The article doesn't say she's a vegetarian, but because she was against the killing, some kids treated her unkindly.

    The article explains the children are guided by a journal that goes back to 1895, and by adult intervention. The children were given 18 chickens. Two have been killed so far.

    One child, Greg, actually has experience with killing animals. Another child, Jared, is quoted as saying: "The natural cycle of life and death. We just gave these suckers a short cut."

    Only Emilie is a real advocate for the chickens. She locked herself in a room with them, and was then asked if she wanted to go home. Iow, I gather, either she lets the chickens go to be killed, or she had to leave. She chose to stay.

    There's also a poll on the website:

    October 2, 2007
  10. From what little I saw the issue was grotesquely reduced to kill-eat without any real thought. Even if they were to decide to use animals just randomly killing some them doesn't make a bit of sense.

    October 2, 2007

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