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Abstract

This article describes the development of empathy within children and provides classroom-based interventions that will foster its development. The development of empathy is a complex process involving both cognitive and affective functioning and awareness. Various perspectives of empathy are explored including what develops, when it develops, and how it develops. Cultural issues are raised that identify variations in development based on socialisation, gender, and cultural values. Abnormal development of empathy is discussed in the form of aggression and bullying. Interventions for fostering empathy within the victim and the bully and for fostering empathy within the classroom setting are described. The article concludes by placing empathy within the context of the Christian worldview of following Christ’s example and identifies the many benefits of teaching empathy in schools.

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