An article from Psychology Today notes a distressing study and, among other suggested causes, indicts once again the perverse educational emphasis on "self-esteem":
College students who hit campus after 2000 have empathy levels that are 40% lower than those who came before them, according to a stunning new meta-analysis presented to at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by University of Michigan researchers. It includes data from over 14,000 students. ....Shocker: Empathy Dropped 40% in College Students Since 2000 | Psychology Today
Why might today's students be less empathetic than their elders? One of the culprits...is the way that they spent most of their time early in life. Today's kids play outdoors much less—and they spend far less time in unstructured activity with others than prior generations.
Without unstructured free time with playmates, children simply don't get to know each other very well. And you can't learn to connect and care if you don't practice these things. Free play declined by at least a third between 1981 and 2003—right when the kids who hit college in 2000 and later were growing up. ....
Another factor is the "self esteem movement" and its pernicious notion that "you can't love anyone else until you love yourself." Today's kids grew up with parents who were taught by therapists and self help groups attended by millions that caring too much for other people or having your happiness tied to theirs was "co dependence,"—and that people should be able to be happy on their own, needing no one. .... [more]