Thank you for reporting on the recent incident whereby Principal Shannon Swilley swallowed a live fish in front of elementary school students. We are dismayed that the police are dismissing it merely because goldfishes like the one who was abused are given an artificial designation. Fishes suffer fear and pain, as science has shown, regardless of what they may be called. The principal gratuitously caused the fish extreme distress, pain and death.

It was also very irresponsible, especially in front of impressionable children who consider their principal to be a role model. We know some were very disturbed by it, others were further desensitized to animal suffering. Humane education is mandated in Illinois, including “instruction [in] protection of wildlife and humane care of domestic animals.”

It was also reckless. A child could imitate him and choke to death or contract parasites or disease. It’s something one can see on the show "Jackass,'' sadly, and should not be something conducted by a principal in an elementary school – or by anyone anywhere else.

Given that it was celebrated on the school’s Facebook page, and the scorn heaped on those who have objected to it, it is woefully apparent that effective humane education and sensitivity training is sorely needed there. We have reached out to interim Superintendent Margaret Longo requesting appropriate action be taken to address it.

Mary Finelli

Silver Spring, Md.