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How to Build Empathy and Prevent Bullying

Sixty-two percent of 9 to 11-year-olds say they have been bullied at least “once or twice,” according to a recent national survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Cartoon Network and designed by VJR Consulting in consultation with the Making Caring Common project (MCC) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, found that the vast majority of young children in this country have experienced bullying and that they look to adults to set an example about how to treat others.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and an excellent time to focus on creating more inclusion in your school and community by re-enforcing kindness and empathy.

• Values matter: The values kids are taught really do matter. Those who consider “caring about others” to be “very” important (74 percent) are far more likely to do kind things for other kids, and far less likely to be bullies.

• Help kids speak up: Over half of kids who have seen someone getting picked on or being left out say one of the reasons they don’t help is they don’t know what to do or say. But there are resources which can help kids learn how to handle these tough situations. For example, Cartoon Network animated children’s stories from their survey into new PSAs, including one featuring Beastboy from “Teen Titans GO!” in a similar situation speaking up, saying “That’s Not Ok.”

Additional PSAs from Cartoon Network and Committee for Children showcasing more stories told by children about their personal experiences being bullied can be found at www.cartoonnetwork.com/stop-bullying/video.html.

• Resources on kindness and empathy: Cartoon Network and 826 National partnered on the Inclusion Storytelling Project to provide tools and encouragement for kids to share their own stories. Easy-to-use digital resources for educators and parents offer tips to help kids speak up against bullying and develop greater caring and empathy skills. More information can be found at www.826digital.com.

• Be engaged: Communication is key to learning what is really going on in your child’s life. The vast majority of 9-to-11-year-olds (83 percent) said it would help kids their age be kinder to one another if every kid had someone who really cared about and listened to them. Check in with kids often to make sure they’re safe and happy at school, on the playground and online.

Everyone can set a good example, and help prevent bullying in the process, by leading with compassion and encouraging kindness. (StatePoint)

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