Critics of bullfighting have long argued that the act of spearing an animal to death for the enjoyment of spectators is in violation of animal rights, but it's also bad for kids. Earlier this month, a United Nations committee released a report stating that exposure to the traditional "sport" of killing bulls actually violates children's rights.
According to the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child, the violence of bullfights is harmful to youngsters forced to attend or participate in them:
"The Committee is concerned about the physical and mental well-being of children involved in the training of bullfighting, and performances associated with it, as well as the mental and emotional well-being of child spectators who are exposed to the violence of bullfighting."
Although opposition to bullfighting still primarily surrounds stopping cruelty to animals, others have begun to note its negative impact on society at large. Last year, as Spain considered protecting the tradition by formally declaring it part of cultural heritage, 140 scientists and academics signed a letter arguing that bullfighting desensitizes young people to violence.
Committee Vice-president Sara Oviedo says "the participation of children and adolescents in bullfighting activities constitutes a grave violation of the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child... as they are being indoctrinated for a violent act."
The UN's report is aimed at Portugal, in particular, where parents can enroll their children in schools that teach bullfighting techniques to students of any age. Bullfight matches there are milder events than elsewhere as bulls are killed out of view, but children of any age are allowed to watch as the animals are mutilated beforehand.
The report suggests raising age limits for attending bullfighting schools and matches to ages 12 and 6, respectively -- a small first step, perhaps, but one that still significantly calls into question the social impacts of the controversial tradition.