Bullfights not bad for children, psychologists say

July 27, 1999

Reuters

MADRID, July 27, (Reuters) - Spanish psychologists say children should not be banned from attending bullfights, but most of them are not interested in the national pastime anyway, El Pais newspaper reported on Tuesday.

After one region of Spain banned children under 14 from going to bullfights, child protection authorities in Madrid asked five university professors to examine whether there were psychological reasons for taking a similar move.

The conclusion, according to El Pais, was that a ban would be "scientifically unsustainable."

 

"Occasional attendance at these festivals should only be avoided in the case of psychologically vulnerable children or those who suffer particular clinical problems such as depression or anxiety," Enrique Echeburua, a professor of clinical psychology, was quoted as saying.

However the reports highlighted a generation gap in attitudes towards bullfighting, with children viewing the traditional Spanish fiesta as something for old people.

"The death and suffering of an animal disgusts them and they don't understand that adults can take pleasure from something like that," said Amalio Blanco, author of one of the reports, adding that 72 percent of children were against bullfighting.

The experts also concluded that watching the fights on television, which transmits several hours of bullfighting throughout the day all summer, was more damaging for children as it softened the impact of the violence.

"It is not the same thing to hear the groans of the bull as it dies as to have it reduced to a quiet noise in the background," said Miguel Clemente of La Coruna University.