If you teach your children to be empathic, they will understand why so-called mean kids do what they do. It does not give those kids a free pass, and it does not require your children to pity anyone.
But, research shows that kids who are empathic are seen as leaders by their peers and are more assertive. They do better in school (and in work later on), and they better understand how to appropriately confront a school bully. Empathic kids are not pushovers–in fact, they are able to better handle conflict than non-empathic children.