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Are Adults Causing the Youth Empathy Gap?

By April 3, 2014Trends

Harvard University 2014 research shows youths’ growing empathy gap: Yet 80% say it’s teachers & parents who’re prioritizing their achievements over their caring. 

The new report, THE CHILDREN WE MEAN TO RAISE:  The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values, asked youth to rank what was most important to them: achieving at a high level, happiness (feeling good most of the time), or caring for others.

Almost 80% of youth picked high achievement  or happiness as their top choice, while roughly 20% selected caring for others. Youth also ranked fairness low in relation to several other values. Meanwhile, vulnerable, traumatized youth continue to feel like they don’t matter. As a result, many youth are trapped in cycles of disrespect: bullying, inequality and not thriving. Ultimately, youth need stronger caring connections with adults who model: I matter. You matter. We close the empathy gap by building youth influencers’ capacity.

Our Respect 360 training and toolkit has helped adults reach more than 30,000 youth with respect-building tools since 2010. Boys & Girls Club, Planned Parenthood, schools, juvenile halls and youth developers partner with us to train adults how to recover form “compassion fatigue” and nurture their own self-respect. We equip these educators, mentors, law enforcement or case workers with a lifelong toolkit containing 375+ social-emotional activities to coach groups or individuals for a year or more. Together youth and their influencers experience they’re “unique contributors to the greater whole” who can make respect the status quo.

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