Many forms of violence occur in schools every day — school shootings, bullying, gang violence, and fights are all too common. A number of factors contribute to these violent acts, including mental health issues, dysfunctional environments at home or in the community, bullying, or lack of strong social and emotional skills.
Our children deserve to be safe at school. The primary responsibility of every district, school, and educator is to ensure students are able to learn in safe and caring environments. To achieve this, experts stress utilizing a multi-faceted approach that includes:
- Implementing physical safety measures and protocols
- Addressing mental health issues
- Developing social and emotional skills
Creating Safe Learning Spaces with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Here are three examples of how SEL can contribute to safer schools:
- SEL Increases Students’ Empathy and Kindness
SEL teaches students that they have the power to spread kindness — even if it’s lacking in other parts of their lives. It also teaches them how to empathize with others. When students learn how to identify and understand others’ feelings, they are more likely to show kindness and compassion. Increased empathy can lead to decreased aggressive behavior, both verbal and physical, and incidents of bullying.
- SEL Creates Positive Learning Environments
Utilizing SEL in normal instruction promotes positive learning environments for students in many ways. Educators get to know their students while sharing about themselves. They collaborate with students on setting rules and make an effort to address all students’ needs. Students learn to celebrate successes and also how to work through failure.
- SEL Strengthens Teacher and Peer Relationships
Strong student-teacher relationships can positively impact students’ behavior and academic achievement. These benefits are long-lasting and can help students become healthy, productive members of society. SEL also improves peer relationships — students learn how to respect, empathize, and cooperate with others, and SEL increases students’ confidence and social engagement.
These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg. SEL fits into many other components that relate to or can improve school safety, such as restorative justice, equitable practices, out-of-school programs, family involvement, and more. Read our SEL and School Safety white paper to learn more about the research behind SEL’s impact on school safety and how schools can integrate SEL into their school safety plans.
While SEL alone can’t solve the problem of school violence, building students’ social and emotional competence can help make our schools safer. One of the most promising aspects of SEL is that research shows it can help all students — particularly those who are most vulnerable and at-risk and/or have experienced adversity or trauma. Contact our experts to start developing an SEL-driven school safety action plan today.