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Babies Battling Bullying

Why does it seem like you always have to travel to Canada to find the really civil approach to complex problems? Well, the Canadians have done it again with a truly groundbreaking program to battle bullying in schools. The program, called Roots of Empathy, involves parents bringing young infants to spend 30 minutes a week in a class of third graders. The twist?  It’s the babies who are the teachers in these sessions. The school kids learn how to read the infant’s emotions and see the value of the bond between parent and child. They learn to be proud of someone else’s accomplishments (such as when the baby sits up by herself), and to feel empathy when the baby is fussy. The program wasn’t conceived as an anti-bullying effort, but they have found that it has had that effect, and now they have evidence that it actually works. Seems pretty cool to me, and also makes me wonder if kids who have siblings who are much younger than themselves are also less likely to bully. What do you think?


  1. Audrey December 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    What a great idea. I love that the focus is on sharing in others acomplishments and reading nonverbal cues. I think this could help even earlyier in a preschool class. Something I will have to think about.

  2. MaryKat Parks Workinger December 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I hadn’t heard about this program. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. I hope U.S. schools will pick this up. Too many programs–anti-bullying, college access, etc.– start too late (middle school/high school).

    And I agree with you about our friends to the North. They “get it” in so many ways that we don’t: healthcare for everyone, humility, politeness, Joni Mitchell… (except for that baby seal hunt thing–what’s up with THAT, Canada?)

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