SEL and School Safety

Supportive relationships and social and emotional skills foster environments where all children are safe, valued, and protected

Social and emotional learning (SEL) contributes to safer schools to create places of joy for learning.

Across the country, schools and communities are having conversations about how to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every child. While there is no single solution, we know that SEL plays a critical role. Evidence-based practices that build supportive relationships and promote social and emotional skills can help reduce bullying and isolation, promote belonging, boost engagement, and curb future violence.

Research shows that preventative measures focused on developing social and emotional competencies and supportive learning climates can foster emotional safety and help reduce violence. By cultivating skills like self-regulation and problem-solving, SEL promotes mental wellness and reduces risky behaviors. SEL also helps foster responsive classroom environments that build supportive relationships, which help prevent isolation and disengagement. While SEL is not a panacea, it is an essential tool that supports physical and emotional safety in schools.

As CASEL’s CEO stated, now is the time to draw upon our shared bonds, our empathy, and our relationships to support one another. Working together, we can make sure our schools are places of safety and joy.

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How is CASEL advancing this work?

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CASEL’s systemic approach to schoolwide SEL promotes safe, supportive learning environments where all adults and children can thrive. Our approach has been field tested and pioneered in school districts across the country that have shared positive outcomes. 

For example, a shooting in Cleveland, a partner school district, spurred a district-wide focus on safety. They won national attention for cultivating safe and supportive learning environments. Their successful, long-term approach that focused on infusing SEL across all learning environments offers hope to other communities.

In addition, our systemic approach encourages parents and teachers to partner with community leaders and school districts to make sure our children are cared for, supported and – most importantly – safe. With SEL, we can create bridges between families and schools to make sure our kids have every opportunity to achieve their goals, contribute to their communities, and lead happy, fulfilling lives. 

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