Developing a Caring Community


At the end of this module, you will:

  • Demonstrate they can create a lesson plan that includes that incorporates ways to create a caring community in your classroom

What is a Caring Community?

Peer cruelty is problem that puts students at risk for becoming bullies. A caring community is classroom or school that chooses to say "Bullying will not be tolerated." it is one step on the way to developing a solid anti-bullying program. Watch as Dr. Lickona further describes a caring community.

Caring Community Video


Part of caring for each other is developing empathy. One characteristic that bullies lack is empathy. They do not experience other people's pain. It is important for children to have good empathy skills. Empathy is related to children’s social competence and their academic success. There is evidence that empathy contributes to one’s ability to learn. In one case, researchers (Izard, Fine, Schultz, Mostow, and Ackerman, 2001) found that, even when they had equal verbal abilities, children who had high levels of emotional understanding at age five were more likely than other children to show academic gains by the time they were nine years old.

Empathy is also related to interpersonal skills in other ways. For example, at the time that they are entering grade school, children who are better at labeling and describing emotions (empathy skills) are also better accepted by their peers (Fabes et al., 1994; c.f., Crick and Dodge, 1994). Empathy can also motivate people to respond to the distress of others in a caring way. Children are more likely to offer help and emotional support if they can take another’s perspective (Carlo, Knight, Eisenberg, and Rotenberg, 1991; Litvack-Miller, McDougall, and Romney, 1997).

How do we Teach Caring?

There are several strategies:

  • Role play: role playing scanrios with students may seem corny but it is a way to have them open up and describe feeelings. In one experimental study, researchers asked young, healthy medical students to simulate the difficulties of old age. For example, students wore goggles covered with transparent tape to simulate the effects of cataracts. To experience poor motor control, the students wore heavy rubber gloves. After the experiment, the students showed greater empathy towards the elderly (Varkey et al 2006).
  • Help kids discover similarities: research suggests that kids are more likely to feel empathy for individuals who are familiar and/or similar to them (e.g., Zahn-Waxler et al 1984; Smith 1988). Kids may also find it easier to empathize with people who they’ve shared unpleasant experiences with (Murphy 1937).

So it’s probably helpful to make kids aware of the similarities they may share with other people.

  • Use questioning:stories are opportunities for kids to practice perspective-taking skills. What do the characters think, believe, want, or feel? And how do we know it?


As a individual now you must create a lesson plan that will help create a caring community in your classroom or program. This can be a lesson using any subject area you choose. The importantance of the lesson should be placed on fostering caring and empathy in your classroom. This is a lesson that should only take up a single time frame you usually block off during your day for activity(or a class period if your program breaks up the day this way). Use the template below.

Media:Lesson Plan Temp..doc

Arrow right.png Continue on to Module 3 Anti-Bullying Programs

Return to course home page