There’s a growing crisis among young people today. One-in-five students report being bullied, cyberbullying is on the rise, and teen suicide is at a record high. As these problems continue to worsen, many adults may be left scratching their heads. How do we stop this crisis and help our youth?
There are a lot of possible answers, but there’s one that I’d like to pose today that I think is too often overlooked: kindness.
Yes, the simple act of kindness – not just witnessing it, but participating in it – has the ability to change people’s lives for the better. To make our world safer and happier for our children, we need to be teaching them how to be kind at home, at school, and in their communities.
This may seem overly simple, but science backs it up. According to research from places like Harvard and UC Berkeley, among others, acts of kindness release chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and oxytocin, which reduce depression and anger and boost overall happiness.
Being kind isn’t something we should just mention to our kids in passing – it should be an integral part of their daily activities.
As the founder of Think Kindness, I am blessed to have an incredible job. I go into schools all across the country and help kids tap into their inner kindness potential. In my ten years here, I’ve seen some amazing results. For instance, after my very first speech, a student who struggled with suicidal thoughts wrote me to tell me how getting involved in helping others radically changed his life for the better.
Luckily, Think Kindness isn’t the only organization that makes kindness its mission.
There’s a group called Count Me In, founded and led by youth, which helps to connect young people with volunteer opportunities in their communities and around the world. To date, the organization has inspired over 100 million volunteer hours. In addition, Count Me In has an annual leadership summit which serves as a bootcamp training kids how to be volunteers and do good in the world. I am also blessed to sit on the advisory board for such a powerful and meaningful organization.
Similarly, there’s an organization in Canada called the WE Charity which does incredible work to connect kids to acts of kindness. For instance, WE offers volunteer trips to impoverished communities around the world, giving young people a powerful chance to make a real difference for people in need.
They also host what they call We Days, which draw hundreds of thousands of children into stadiums across the world to hear nspirational messages about doing good around the world.
Organizations like these and others are essential to turning the tide of anger, depression, and sadness among our youth today.
But they need backup, because according to one study, youth volunteering has gone down over the last fifteen years. All of us – parents, teachers, community leaders – need to promote kindness to young people.
We can do it in two ways: first and foremost, by showing kindness ourselves; second, by connecting our kids to groups which can give them the tools they need to be conduits of kindness everywhere they go.
Let’s get to it – it just might change the world.
President & Founder, Think Kindness