Giving Children Hope: Creating an Empathy Nation

Giving Children Hope: Creating an Empathy Nation

Giving Children Hope: Creating an Empathy Nation

Many people are reaching out to the counselors at UDS (University of Delaware Senior Development Center) to tell their stories about the bullying or stigma that the bullying experienced. Their stories are significant to the people they are describing and to everyone else. The students are left with the challenge of understanding their own experiences with bullying and the impact that those experiences had on their lives.

In November 2015, I had the opportunity to watch a Holocaust film called “Ingo: a Film about Dancing.” In the film, the director shows an audience of people various lives, points of view, and circumstances that occurred during the Holocaust. She then takes the audience through what each person saw, how the same events impacted them, and what they would do if their experience happened today. They look at the consequences of allowing prejudice to flourish and to be let into someone’s homes and schools. The film gives each person the opportunity to speak their truth.

That same month, I went on a short field trip with senior students to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. As a member of the staff, I thought it was important to add these narratives about the past and current world into the curriculum.

I sat in on the screening of “Ingo: a Film about Dancing” with the students. The film made them uncomfortable and humbling for their own experience. I was able to experience that as well. I want to encourage them to go forward and do the same.

Advancing the Empathy, Compassion, and Compassionate Society

I know what they will do. They will see a situation in a positive light and show empathy. They will relate it to their experience and direct their frustrations to a better cause. They will start down the road of building the compassionate society.

I know their parents will see their growth and get it from them, or better yet, see that their maturity is helping them show empathy. We encourage the students to think about the comparison between themselves and other young people. It’s a way for them to become mature. Many times, young people would be bullied and I’ve seen them respond by attacking the bully. They are not able to build empathy for the bullied and then react as adults to the cruelty that comes out of their mouths.

Schools in our country are full of bullying. Youth culture is going in a direction of being a society of younger and younger people. Teens are learning at younger and younger ages. I look at the digital media that our youth are becoming acquainted with and I see a world where it’s not only possible to be a bully, but it’s also possible to bully with impunity. They are able to do that with no consequence other than their own lack of empathy.

Instead of turning on your cellphone, turn your thoughts to those being bullied and let the actions lead the thoughts. Talk to them and hear their stories. Let them know they are not alone. As adults, we can make it difficult for children to show what happened. We can needlessly mock it or point fingers. We need to see it the other way around. We need to see the human element, rather than the unjustifiable emotion. It’s so easy to point the finger and we will see more bullying. Instead, we can be an example of being compassionate and coming to a resolution.

We can and should help them find a resource to help them get past their pain and help them find their empathy. We can and should choose to support their well-being and positive attitudes. We can start a conversation about turning off the phone and walk away. Be a voice for the voiceless.

Children are at a critical juncture in their lives and we must nurture them with kindness and compassion. They need help. There’s no excuse for it. It’s time for adults to support and give children hope.

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