"Help Teenagers increase their EMPATHY to Decrease Bullying and Overall Crappy Behavior toward Each Other, Teachers, and Parents"
For Heather N. whose question is the title for this post.
So ~ I feel that the biggest challenge to empathy is that we are so sectionalized as a society nowadays that we simply do not even know what it is anymore.
There's also the idea that if empathy is too drawn out it can be harmful, so then compassion comes in. "Why Empathy is Not the Best Way to Care" is a great video for teachers - and others - about the difference in active compassion and active empathy.
My personal view is that both empathy an compassion have their place.
My favorite place to go for nearly science based and positive behavior information is the Greater Good Science Center. Their work on The Art and Science of Awe and other topics is.... well, it's just AWESOME.
Goldie Hawn's foundation MindUp publishes a curriculum that I think is just wonderful, as it teaches kids compassion for themselves and others within the school setting.
Basically, a teacher or parent can take just 3-5 minutes each day to teach healthy other/self-regard and healthy other/self-care. And here's this 3 minute video for teachers that reinforces the learning benefits of showing short videos of unrelated topics during a course to improve learning. No big deal, just a positive water-drip method of wearing down a person's preconceived notions of other/self-helplessness.
There are lots of other resources on this topic. I've just mentioned my faves.
Peace to you, Erica