Safe Places

To develop intellectually and emotionally, young people need physical and psychological safety at home, at school and in the community.   Without such “safe places” – environments that support and encourage inquiry, exploration, and play without fear of harm – children aren’t able to get support, form positive relationships and concentrate on school.

Development of these crucial cognitive and social/emotional skills is stunted when children are continually exposed to environments of high stress – circumstances in which their stress responses are activated and stay that way for long periods of time. Researchers emphasize the need for young people to have the constant engagement of caring adults in their lives, from family, school and community organizations, who can form an environment of nurturing relationships and safe places in and out of school for young Americans to experience as they grow.  Fear – real or imagined – of physical violence, bullying, injury or the effects of chronic neglect deprive children of the safe spaces they need to learn and develop.

Not only does over-exposure to stress interfere with intellectual and emotional development, it has long-term negative health effects.  With fear responses stuck in the “on” position, children’s bodies must cope with chronically elevated levels of heart rates, stress hormones, blood sugar, and immune system responses. Over a time, these conditions wear bodies down, create chronic health problems that include increased likelihood to develop diabetes or cardiovascular disease, abuse drugs, or experience adult depression.

The answer is for all young people to have safe places to learn and grow constantly.

 

Related Resources

2016 Building a Grad Nation Report

May 9, 2016Written annually by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, this report examines the progress and challenges the nation faces in reaching the GradNation goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent by the Class of 2020.

Barriers to Wellness: Voices and Views from Youth in Five Cities

Nov 16, 2016To better understand the obstacles to well-being experienced by young people of color in urban communities, the Center for Promise (CfP) implemented a youth-led health and wellness assessment in five cities - Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and St. Paul. While the assessment methods varied from surveys and interviews to photovoice (using photography to observe, document, and discuss the features of a community), common themes emerged. This report summarizes findings from the youth-led assessment, bringing young people’s voices and views into the discussion about what affects their health and wellness.

Building Blocks of a GradNation

Jun 25, 2015Much has been written about how to prevent students from leaving high school before graduating, and which life experiences or risk factors may lead a young person to drop out. Less is known, however, about what promotes the attainment of a high school diploma. In order to help all young people stay on the path to graduation, it is important to consider the influences in their lives that lead to on-time graduation.

Comprehensive Community Initiatives - Case Studies

Nov 19, 2015Collective impact – a collaborative approach to solving social problems - is a popular tool used by the government and community-based organizations. Communities across the country are embracing this approach to help children and young people access the fundamental resources - what we call the Five Promises – that they need to succeed. Decades of community change efforts demonstrate, however, that this strategy is far from a silver bullet. America’s Promise Alliance and its research center, the Center for Promise, presents a series of in-depth case studies highlighting collaborative efforts in the cities of Atlanta, Orlando, and New Orleans that distill important lessons about how organizations can work together effectively - and, ultimately, put young people on positive pathways.

Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation

Aug 17, 2015Part of the Don't Call Them Dropouts series of research, Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation explores the social and emotional competencies of young people who have left school before graduating from high school. Though often labeled "dropouts," by society, stereotypes assume that these young people are deficient and simply disengaged - lacking the competencies of those that do graduate. Our analyses show that young people who left school expressed the same competencies as those that have been found for young people who are academically successful. And, while not always legal or socially acceptable, the competencies of young people who left school before graduating enabled them to pursue and successfully reach their goals. Often, these goals were focused on circumstances that were dissonant with attending school, such as caring for a family member, surviving violent and/or abusive situations or financially providing for themselves or their families.

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