Your grandchild has a lot to teach the world about justice

They may have a reputation for tantrums and and refusing to share but, as these kids show commuters in the video below, young children actually have an inherent sense of justice and a surprising level of concern for others.

This need to do the right thing is so strong children will overcome obstacles, such as an adult not noticing them, or swallow their shyness to put things right.

This gorgeous video, which was produced by the Japanese Red Cross, coincides with the results of a study released last month by German and British scientists.

Among the findings, researchers saw young children prefer to return lost items to their rightful owners and that they will prevent a third party from taking what doesn’t belong to them. Furthermore, the researchers found three- and five-year-old children were just as likely to respond to the needs of others, as they were to their own.

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“The chief implication is that a concern for others –empathy, for example – is a core component of a sense of justice,” says Keith Jensen of the University of Manchester.

To find out what motivates a sense of justice in young children, Katrin Riedl along with Mr Jensen and their colleagues gave three- and five-year-olds at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany the opportunity to take items away from a puppet that had “taken” them from another.

Those children were as likely to intervene on behalf of a puppet “victim” as they were for themselves. When given a range of options, three-year-olds preferred to return the item than to remove it.

“The take-home message is that preschool children are sensitive to harm to others, and given a choice would rather restore things to help the victim than punish the perpetrator,” Jensen says.

He adds that, instead of punishing children for doing something wrong, explaining the harm it has caused and righting the wrong may be more effective.

Tell us about the little people in your life? Are they kind at heart?