Thursday, November 04, 2010

Roots of Empathy

By now we've all seen the speech on bullying given by Fort Worth City Councilman, Joel Burns. If you haven't, you should check it out. Go ahead. We'll wait.

I am currently part of an anti-bullying program at The Kid's school. I actually signed up before I knew it had anything to do with bullying; all I knew at the time was that the school was looking for parents with new babies to volunteer in 3rd grade classrooms one day each month. I signed up, thinking there couldn't be a better volunteer opportunity for me, and found out only later that the program, called Roots of Empathy, is aimed at reducing aggression among schoolchildren.

Each participating classroom has a Roots of Empathy instructor who visits three times each month, and a "class baby" who visits (along with his/her parent(s)) once each month. The students observe the nonverbal communication cues of the baby and the responses of the parent, and guess what either might be feeling. The instructor guides the observation process, asks the parent questions about his/her interactions with the baby, and prepares follow-up activities for the kids. In theory, the program helps build the emotional literacy needed for schoolchildren to empathize with one another.

I don't know that The Baby's presence in a classroom is ultimately going to save any lives, but maybe it'll help, just a little, to keep kids from taunting and punching each other quite so much. Every little bit helps.

1 comment:

Sarahf said...

Anything that tries to combat bullying is worth a try. Sounds like an interesting project.

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