This is a great article on mean behavior, found increasingly in younger children from the Sunday Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/fashion/10Cultural.html After reading the article I perused the comments of readers online and found it astonishing that some people find the behavior common place. Increasingly in the news we hear of teenagers and college age students enduring incessant bullying. No child should feel they are unsafe, or a target at school. It is the responsibility of teachers and parents to insure each child understand what every human being craves - happiness. That is really it. It comes down to such a simple concept, we all want to live with as little suffering as possible and as much happiness as possible. For every child to know that concept may make all the difference in the world.
Empathy is something that begins to emerge in young children and should be reinforced at home and at school. When a child says something hurtful to another child, rather than forcing them to "say your sorry" it is more meaningful to ask the child to think about how the other child feels and how they would feel if somebody said hurtful words to them. Developing empathy is so necessary in this era - when we are increasingly in our own world of tv, media, and video games. It is so vital to remember there is a world beyond ourselves and that how we interact with that world matters.
Empathy is something we will be working on each day in the classroom. We will work to develop care and understanding for each other during the daily ups and downs that inevitably occur and more directly through curriculum.