Most young people are empathetic but 3 in 4 rarely do something to help: World Vision poll

SINGAPORE - Young people here believe it is important to help the less fortunate, but few translate this belief into action, a survey by World Vision Singapore has found.

The humanitarian group found that nine in 10 respondents agreed that it was important to help the disadvantaged, but three in four said they rarely translate their empathy into actions, mainly due to a lack of time and money. The survey polled more than 310 people aged 15 to 35. They were asked to rate, on a scale of one to 10, on whether they agree with statements about empathy and gratitude.

The survey also found that empathy in youths was influenced mainly through their relationships with family and friends. When asked to rate their sources of learning about empathy, a third of the respondents (33.8%) strongly agreed that family and friends were their key source, while only one in five strongly agreed that social media was their key source.

National University of Singapore sociologist Ho Kong Chong said: "Although youth are frequent users of social media, it serves a more immediate and social need among their social networks rather than something more purposeful like social concerns. In this way, demonstrative behaviour from close family and friends is more effective."

But it seems there are few of such empathetic people surrounding the youths. Less than 10 per cent of respondents strongly agreed when asked if they are surrounded by people who display empathy.

World Vision Singapore organises several programmes each year to get young people more actively involved in helping the less fortunate. One such activity is its annual 30-Hour Famine Camp on from June 12 to 13, which is now into its 30th year.

Its chief executive Foo Pek Hong said: "These existing programmes aim to motivate youth to be more empathetic by providing opportunities to experience the circumstances surrounding less privileged youth.

She added that the group hopes to "amplify these programmes" and get more young people to commit time and passion for a good cause.