I WAS saddened and sickened at the story about the poor hedgehog being used as a football by young thugs and can only thank God that this harmless little creature escaped further ill treatment.

It makes me realise just how vulnerable to cruelty small animals are in the present climate of violence and total lack of decent parental guidance.

Children brought up in decent homes will automatically reflect this in their dealings with other people and animals, but there are far too many homes where cruelty is the order of the day. I wish I knew the answer to the question of how to educate children into thoughtfulness and kindness when their lives are ruled by violence at home.

Faced with truly dreadful conditions every day of their lives, they must consider that these are normal and acceptable and even the best of teachers find it impossible to guide their pupils in a different and compassionate way of life.

If anyone has the answer to this important and vexed question, it would be worth its weight in gold to human and animal society.

Heather Causnett, Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.