About the Kindness Survey

“Providing parents and teachers the tools and resources they need to help instill kindness and empathy in their children is at the core Sesame’s mission. We want to engage in a national conversation about kindness and hope this study is a first step towards that.” – Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn.

Why Kindness?

While Sesame Workshop is best known as the creator of Sesame Street, our organization extends far beyond the furry and friendly show that has served as a rite of passage for most American children for almost 50 years. We are a nonprofit organization; the mission that propels us forward is to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We are educators, researchers, providers of outreach materials, and advocates for children and those who care for them. As a well-known player in American culture, it is incumbent upon us to use our voice to raise the profile of issues that are of the utmost importance to child well-being. This year, we continue our tradition of engaging in research studies designed to illuminate the critical needs of children and families. Our goal is to use the findings of this study to engage the public and major stakeholders in the child development, education, policy, and parenting world in much-needed conversations about what strengthens our children’s development.

We chose to shine the spotlight on kindness because we have noticed an increasing number of news stories on anger, fear, bullying, and violence, as well as an overall sense of negativity permeating social discourse. We read research indicating that narcissism is on the rise, empathy is on the decline, and that middle and high school students think their parents prioritize grades and happiness over being kind to others. We also read articles about the importance of empathy and social-emotional skills, and how more and more states will be integrating social-emotional learning into their curricula.

Missing from this discourse, however, was the pulse of parents and educators of younger children—what role they see kindness playing in their own lives, what kindness means to them, and how it’s prioritized in their child’s development. The purpose of this study is to fill that gap.

Parent Survey Methodology

The Parent Survey is a nationally-representative telephone survey of 2,002 parents of children ages 3 to 12. For eligible respondents with more than one child in this age range, one child was randomly selected to be the reference child for specific questions in the survey. The survey was fielded by SSRS from July 18 through August 3, 2016, via landline and cell phones. Final data were weighted to provide nationally representative and projectable estimates of the population of parents of a child in this age range. The margin of error for total respondents is +/-2.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Teacher Survey Methodology

The Teacher Survey is an online survey of 500 teachers of pre-k through 6th grade. The survey was fielded by SSRS from July 25 through August 3, 2016, via a self-administered online survey to panelists identified as teachers. Final data were weighted to provide nationally representative estimates of teachers of these grades.