When I knocked on the door of teenage mother Amy, she held her infant baby girl in her arms and her toddler clung to her leg. Her glasses had been punched into her eyebrow, leaving a fresh cut, and she lead with, "Mary, he didn't mean it, he said he was sorry, he even cried." He was able to admit that he could not feel what she felt. He lacked empathy.
The absence of empathy is a common denominator in atrocities at home such as family violence, bullying at school and global atrocities such as the Holocaust, genocide and the marginalization of those who are different in some way. When levels of empathy go up, people are less likely to hurt one another, as they understand how it feels to be hurt. This is exactly what we see in the Roots of Empathy classrooms as children are able to identify with the feelings of the other. Randomized longitudinal research studies show that this aggression and bullying is reduced significantly and remains lower over time. Developing empathy allows us to identify our shared humanity. Roots of Empathy was born to draw the curtain on cruelty and build a bridge which connects us to one another, to our shared feelings.
We are all born with the capacity for empathy and it flowers or fades in the early years in response to the care we receive from loved ones. Roots of Empathy works from the love between a parent and an infant. Across the United States, hundreds of Roots of Empathy classrooms have brought together neighborhood infants and parents, along with a trained instructor and an award-winning curriculum to build empathy in children over the school year.
If you'd like to stop bullying and aggression early by introducing young children to empathy, you can learn more about the Roots of Empathy Indiegogo campaign here.