Although there are many causes of violence, empathy is the key antidote to it. Therefore, one certain way to reduce violence is to ensure babies are cared for in a way that develops their capacity for empathy (the ability to feel for and with another person).
The surest way to develop empathy in young children is by supporting parents in caring for them with attunement (this means responding to a baby’s emotional needs in a way that conveys a sense of being understood, cared for and valued). Another way to put it is that it is the connectedness between the parent and baby.
WAVE’s search for global best practice in prevention of violence has identified numerous effective early interventions. Many of the programmes identified focus on developing both attunement and empathy in:
- Tomorrow’s parents while they are still in school
- Current parents, and
To understand more about this whole subject, you can read Section 3 of our report Violence and what to do about it. You can also read our recent Conception to age 2 - the age of opportunity report.
If local areas adopt our primary prevention recommendations and our recommended programmes are implemented, we estimate that child abuse, neglect and witnessing domestic violence could be reduced by as much as 70% by 2030. In turn, this will also:
- Greatly reduce crime and violence in our society
- Result in huge reductions in teenage pregnancies, mental and physical health disorders, welfare dependency and the associated social and financial costs of child abuse and violence
- Create net savings of billions of pounds per year in Government spending