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.

 

Resources

Empty school hallway
February 22, 2018

This Point of View brief from the Center for Promise provides research insights on a particularly timely topic - violence in America's schools - that is impacting young people in America. Learn more about this topic by reading this brief

Source: Center for Promise
Our Work
April 17, 2017

How can we take what’s been learned and accelerate progress for young people in America, especially for those young people who are most vulnerable? How can we create the conditions for success for more young people, more quickly? To answer these questions, America’s Promise reviewed research about…

Source: America's Promise Alliance
Report cover
November 29, 2016

This report provides new insights into the obstacles to wellness young people of color face in five cities and brings young people’s voices and views into the discussion about what affects their health and wellness.

Source: Center for Promise
Center for Promise Squared
September 19, 2016

Part of the Don’t Call Them Dropouts series of research, Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation explores the social and emoti

Source: Center for Promise
December 17, 2015

Health risks can be difficult barriers to thriving for young people to navigate.