Committee for Children Blog

Response to Charlottesville: A Call for Empathy and Inclusion from Joan Cole Duffell

Mindfulness - Joan Duffell

The terrible events in Charlottesville and the news stories and conversations of the past week are weighing on our minds here at Committee for Children. Such hatred, violence, and intolerance can only be extinguished by working together now to build a safer, more just world for our children and future generations. It’s times like this that we are most deeply reminded of the reasons why we are committed to working with you to develop children’s capacity for empathy and for becoming effective “upstanders” when confronted with injustice.

Committee for Children, in partnership with educators, children, and caregivers like you, understands it is of paramount importance to build children’s social-emotional competencies—so that they might grow up to be adults who start from a place of empathy and kindness, not fear and hate; whose response to people different from them is welcoming, not rejecting; and who exercise peaceful problem-solving, not blaming and finger-pointing.

Right now, as caregivers and educators are faced with understanding and responding to the events of last week, children, too, are hearing conversations around them and potentially seeing news coverage. To help adults help kids cope with what they’re hearing and seeing, we recommend the following resources for talking with kids at various age levels:

We also have the following free resources to be used in classrooms and at home to encourage the kindness and inclusion we hope to foster in our children:

Home activity: “Welcoming a New Neighbor” (suitable for preschool through early elementary)

Classroom activities for educators:

And last, Education Week recently published “Yes, Race and Politics Belong in the Classroom: Ten tips for teachers to engage students in difficult conversations,” which many educators may find useful.

Let’s use these events as motivation to redouble our efforts to teach, model, and practice social-emotional skills and grow the social-emotional movement. It’s our greatest source of hope for a better world.

Joan Cole Duffell
Executive Director
Committee for Children