The Power of Empathy

December 8, 2014 9:26 PM

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I recently read an article by Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald titled "The Groundbreaking Study Proving Dogs Can Help Us to Be More Fully Human." The study was based upon the results of mentoring at-risk teens serving time in juvenile correctional facilities in providing obedience training to sheltered dogs in order to increase the likelihood that they would be adopted. Dr. Fitzgerald explained that such teens don't tend to possess the emotional skills needed to live within a civilized society. Children typically learn such skills through healthy attachments in childhood and they can impact how children see themselves, discern the world, and interact with others. The study found that those who completed the program demonstrated "increased emotional intelligence, decreased self-serving/anti-social behavior, and increased empathy. [Since] empathy is what makes us human, dogs are teaching us to be human."

Selfishness and indifference to others among both children and adults are commonplace. Too often, students who are different are mocked or bullied, too many children are disrespectful to both other children and adults, and too few children and adults feel responsibility for their communities ... Our...

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