Teaching children about kindness today may be different from how it was years ago, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any more complicated. But a new survey shows that a stunning 70 percent of parents say that the world is unkind to their children.
The research, conducted by Sesame Workshop (the New York nonprofit that gave us Sesame Street), included input from over 2,000 parents and 500 teachers. The findings were particularly interesting and concerning — it found that “58% of teachers say most children today are disrespectful” and “52% of teachers say being kind ‘is not a priority’ to most people.”
Jennifer Kotler Clarke, vice president of research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop and developmental scientist, had this to say about the results found from the survey:
“There is this feeling [that] we’re not in a kind place at the moment, although at the individual level, parents do feel that their children are kind and that they are doing a good job in that way.”
Teaching kindness to children requires empathy from those doing the teaching — and Kotler Clarke referenced that the vast majority of surveyed parents said it was more important for their children to have manners, rather than for them to have empathy. And this could be part of the problem:
“It’s not just the surface, smiling around people and opening a door, saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you,’ all of which are important. But it doesn’t end there. It needs to be even deeper…'”
But beyond that, the environment and our overall society can have an effect on how children process and interpret kindness. Though the election wasn’t mentioned in the survey when it was conducted over the summer, USA Today reports that teachers have reported that what they call the “Trump effect,” or bullying that specifically targets children of color and child immigrants, is on the rise.
Now, more than ever, children need to understand the importance of kindness. This survey can give us a better idea on where to start helping them.
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