Want to stop bullying? Teach empathy
Let's take a scientific approach to fixing the teenage "bullycide" problem, says Maia Szalavitz in Time
Empathy is innate in human beings, says Maia Szalavitz in Time. Even babies prefer adults "who help rather than hinder others." New scientific research suggests that the best way to prevent bullying — and avoid related tragedies like Phoebe Prince's suicide — is to make children to be more aware of their natural empathic capacities:
"Start by teaching children to understand their own behavior and feelings — it provides the basic tools for understanding the behavior and feelings of others. For instance, when dealing with a child who has hurt another person, help him or her 'anchor how they felt in the moment,' says Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy, a school-based program designed to foster compassion. 'We always think we should start with, "How do you think so-and-so felt?" But you will be more successful if you start with, "You must have felt very upset." The trick is to help children describe how they felt, so that the next time this happens, they've got language. Now they can say, "I'm feeling like I did when I bit Johnny."'"