I only heard about the University of Michigan Empathy Study the other day. It was actually completed in 2010.
Drop of 40% in empathy levels!
US college sophomore’s have been questioned about empathy for over 30 years. The 2010 figures showed there was a drop of 40% in empathy levels over this twenty to thirty year period. I wonder what the figure is now some 7 years later!
2000 saw the biggest drop. This would have been the year that children born in 1982 or onwards started college! Which would probably make them the first generation brought up with 24 hour news, games consoles, mobile phones and the internet. Have all these things combined to disconnect our youth from others?
Daily we see or hear about online bullying. Trolling and memes poking fun at people because of how they look or what they wear. We judge people and are judged instead of offering help and support.
Babies and toddlers have empathy.
I always believed that empathy was something that some people had naturally and others didn’t. I came across this piece by Diana Divecha PHD that shows all babies and toddlers have empathy, with no difference between the sexes.
It is also something that can be nurtured. There is then something wrong with our modern world if children are losing the ability to show empathy to others, by the time they are teenagers! Is it our parenting? Our education systems? The modern digital world? More than likely it is a combination of all three.
In Danish schools they have an hour a week, from their own first year to when they leave school, where the students meet and can discuss anything that is bothering them. They then work together to try and find solutions. At the end of the hour they have a cake or other treats baked by the students.
Year on year Denmark is top of the happiness charts.
I have watched many instances of children showing empathy to their fellow humans. Now that I think about it, it is mainly the smaller children who empathise the most.
How have we let generations of young people grow up without the ability to empathise and want to help their fellow humans? How have we become so consumed with the attainment of wealth and possessions? So wrapped up in digital worlds that we can’t spare the time or energy to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes never mind help them.
I for one will certainly be doing more to try and make sure my children grow up with empathy!
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