Give a little love: The need for compassion


Theodore Roosevelt once wisely stated that, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” This quote rings true in today’s society as bullying is a prime example of cruelty. Compassion is an important quality and solution in helping students deal with cruelty and bullying.

Compassion in schools

The National Center for Education Statistics found 22 percent of students in 2013 were picked on and bullied in school. The need for compassion is great as children should not be told to simply get over it. Children need to learn and understand compassion at a young age and grow learning to respect other students instead of harm.

Student therapist and licensed social worker, Signe Whitson, describes the passive aggressive approach to instilling compassion in children when they are young. Whitson offers one approach as, “While showing compassion to others is a top way to role model this value for your child, allowing your child to experience compassion first-hand is even more meaningful.” Actions can speak more than words and a child will learn what true compassion means after experiencing it.

While this can help students learn and understand compassion, parents may still fear if their child will be David or Goliath in the halls at school. Parents can teach and make sure the child experiences compassion, since compassion is thought to be a natural instinct in humans by scientists.

Is compassion a natural response?

The debate of compassion needing to be taught and learned in individuals or a natural instinct of an individual has been studied and explored within the scientific community. Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., writes about compassion as one of humanity’s first instincts. “Compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help,” Seppälä explains. Children and adults may feel emotion toward seeing a person in pain or a hurt animal and feel a desire to help.

“The act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving,” Seppälä adds to the notion of compassion benefitting psychological health. Since the brain is designed to feel a bit of pleasure or reward toward helping, compassion can be viewed as a natural reaction.

Hurt people hurt people, and are hurt by people

Compassion may be a natural instinct, but meanwhile bullies continue to pick on others and torment them. The reason for this may be that the bully is suffering from internal pain. A bully may seek bullying as a form of expression the anger and inner pain. If one does not feel happiness it may be possible he or she will not feel compassion toward others.

The difficult part is to express compassion toward the bully. Whitson wrote about teaching a child to be compassionate, but that may become difficult when dealing with a bully. To help a child avoid falling into bad habits of picking on others, talk with the child and reinforce compassionate values at a young age.

White River Academy is not a school for bad kids, rather, an accredited educational and therapeutic, structured and family-directed place for inner exploration and personal development. The positive peer culture and varied treatment modalities make our facility pivotal in rearing teenaged boys out of disorders and addictions, into healthy maturity. For enrollment details call: 866-520-0905.

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