Could the simple presence of an infant in a classroom break up the cliques that often lead to bullying in schools? An insightful OpEd in The New York Times follows the work of Roots of Empathy, a Toronto-based organization that organizes monthly baby visits to more than 12,600 classrooms across Canada. Through the program, moms and their 2 to 4 month olds visit classrooms for 40 minutes three times a month. During the visits, students (kindergarten through seventh grade) learn to observe the world through the baby's perspective (laying down, unable to speak, etc.) and are taught a variety of caregiving skills (comforting a crying tot, singing nursery rhymes, etc.). According to observers, the bundles of joy become great equalizers. A report said:
In a study of first- to third-grade classrooms, Schonert-Reichl focused on the subset of kids who exhibited “proactive aggression” – the deliberate and cold-blooded aggression of bullies who prey on vulnerable kids. Of those who participated in the Roots program, 88 percent decreased this form of behavior over the school year, while in the control group, only 9 percent did, and many actually increased it.