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Scouts calls for action to end UK’s ‘crisis of empathy’.

A new YouGov poll* has found that the majority of British adults (51%) who expressed a view believe there is less empathy in UK society now than just 12 months ago. The startling statistic is in line with global trends, the growth of social media and what’s been dubbed ‘generation me’.

We find this emerging crisis of empathy unacceptable – it is damaging society and reducing the life chances of young people – and Chief Scout Bear Grylls has called for urgent action to provide more opportunities for young people to develop this essential skill. However, a huge 92% of the public who expressed a view agree that Scouts do this effectively, stating that they believe we are helping young people develop this critical skill for life through volunteering and community projects.

The new YouGov* research that uncovered the size of the UK’s crisis of empathy polled over 2,000 British adults. Our Chief Scout has called urgently for more volunteers to help young people develop this crucial skill and to prevent the crisis deepening.

Research Stat 1 Twitter

Bear Grylls said: 

‘Today, in a world that sometimes feels fractured and insular, empathy and kindness are more important than ever. That’s why it’s important that we do something about this challenge. If the trend continues, we risk more division in our communities and increased alienation among young people. New research has shown that more than half of British adults say there is less empathy in UK society today than a year ago. When society is polarised, we need to work twice as hard to understand each other and find ways of working together. I believe young people have a right to develop key skills such as empathy and kindness and we urgently need more adult volunteers to help us do this.’ 

There is growing awareness of just how vital empathy is both socially and professionally. The 92% of British adults who said they believe that the Scouts help young people to develop this skill said we do so through our volunteering and community projects.* One such example is how we give the UK’s 460,000 Scouts the opportunity to develop their powers of empathy while working towards their Community Impact Badge, mixing with people from different backgrounds. As a result, there are now over 22,000 Scout Dementia Friends across the UK. The role involves the Scouts learning about dementia, partnering with people affected and giving their time and energy to help their local community become more dementia friendly. 

We pride ourselves in building empathy to cross boundaries within communities, and help young people develop skills to succeed in life. We deeply value this particular skill and hope others will back our call to improve levels of empathy in society.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2087 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 14th September 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).