In its long study of the root causes of violence, WAVE identified empathy as the single greatest antidote to violent behaviour. In the early 2000s, after our search for global best practice solutions, we identified the Canadian programme Roots of Empathy [link to page] (ROE) as one of our main recommendations for adoption in the UK. ROE develops empathy in both today’s schoolchildren and tomorrow’s parents.
After recommending ROE in our 2005 report Violence and what to do about it we worked with Mary Gordon, the Canadian founder of ROE, and in 2008 we helped to make the Isle of Man the first place in Europe to provide the ROE programme. It has been running in every primary school on the island since then.
We then took this programme to both Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2010/2011, through the support of the Northern Ireland Health Service and Action for Children, who raised the funding for the Scottish extension. By early 2014, it was being delivered in every local authority in Scotland with 6,500 children having gone through the programme. In Northern Ireland 3,500 children had participated.
WAVE was also instrumental in bringing ROE to Croydon and Lewisham, its first sites in England, funded by the Big Lottery. The programme is also being delivered in Newcastle and Cardiff.
By the end of 2014 Roots of Empathy will have reached over 600,000 children across the world.