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

Cover Page
March 12, 2019

A growing movement dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of children is reshaping learning and changing lives across America. On the strength of its remarkable consensus, a nation at risk is finally a nation at hope. Find out more and get involved.

Source: National Commision on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development
Girl jumping on a rocket
January 31, 2019

Using Policy to Create Healthy Schools provides state-by-state and issue-specific analyses of how state laws address the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model

Source: Child Trends
Meeting
January 31, 2019

This brief introduces a Trauma-Informed Policy Framework to Create Supportive Learning Environments to help state officials create supportive learning environments that meet the needs of students ...

Source: Child Trends
Two girls playing
December 03, 2018

One of Playworks’ most popular tools to-date is the Recess Checkup, a short 3-5 minute online quiz designed to help educators identify strengths and surface areas for improvement on their playground. 

Source: Playworks
Children running in a field
December 03, 2018

With more than 20 years of experience working with elementary schools, Playworks launched Recess lab to support principals, teachers and other school staff to rediscover the power of play.

Source: Playworks
Children in the classroom
November 26, 2018

Promote a healthy learning environment at your school to reduce absenteeism, improve test scores and enhance student and staff productivity.