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Empathy: Could do better

The most recent PISA survey asked over half a million 15 year olds from 35 OECD countries about their experience of bullying..

The questions covered a number of types of bullying but the one that stood out for me was the percentage of students who reported being bullied at least a few times a month by other students making fun of them. New Zealand topped the bill with 17.4% reporting that this had happened to them.

What is it about our culture that permits this to happen? Is “having each other on” or “giving someone a hard time” just seen as what we do and no harm intended? Are we all expected to just harden up and get over it? While admittedly some people will have the self-confidence to ignore teasing and jibes, for others it may have a corrosive, harmful effect. Most of us can tell when an ill-considered comment doesn’t go down too well and desist from repeating it. But obviously for some this self-awareness is missing. The ability to put oneself into the shoes of another and imagine how it would feel. We call it empathy. By developing empathy and a sense of responsibility for others we as a nation can start to make an impact on our appalling bullying record.

Let’s do this!

Jeremy Bloomfield