Emotional Safety

emotional safety

An experience in which one feels safe to express emotions, security, and confidence to take risks and feel challenged and excited to try something new.

Emotional safety in schools refers to how safe a student feels in expressing their emotions in school.  Students should feel secure and confident as they express themselves and take on challenges that encourage them to try something new.

Emotionally safe learning environments can be achieved by making social and emotional learning (SEL) an essential part of education. SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy toward others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL can support conditions for belonging and emotional safety when schools are responsive to students’ perspectives and needs, affirming of students’ full identities, and promote structures that create predictability and consistency. Competence in the use of SEL skills is promoted in the context of safe and supportive school, family, and community learning environments in which children feel valued, respected, and connected to and engaged in learning.

Featured Resources

Social-Emotional Learning Needs and Strategies

Summarizes state social and emotional learning needs and strategies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, as outlined in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plans.

Mother laughing with son

Examines how children across the United States were faring before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Identifies multi-year trends comparing statistics from 2010 to 2018 and utilizes this information to help shape policymakers, researchers, and advocates' work to build stronger futures for children, families, and communities.

First page of the A Review of the Literature on Social and Emotional Learning for Students Ages 3–8: Characteristics of Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs guide

Summarizes, in a four-part review series, the benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL) in early childhood, and identifies the characteristics of SEL interventions that are effective in school contexts. The review identified effective SEL programs, strategies, and implementation practices. These effective components include aspects of program design, teacher training and technical assistance, and integration of SEL with existing structures. 

SAMHSA Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress front page

Outlines the common warning signs and risk factors for emotional distress that children, adults, and first responders often experience. Also, highlights a disaster distress helpline for further contact.

America’s schools are often a primary source of supports for the mental health and general well-being of children and youth. These supports are particularly essential when students are struggling or experiencing trauma (e.g., contending with impact of COVID-19), while also experiencing adolescence. A key area of support schools can provide is building student resilience.  Building student resilience can mitigate the impact of adversities, enabling students to rise above the challenges they face and recalibrate their responses accordingly. This is especially the case when students have

CDC cover page on LGBT Youth

Provides research-based steps parents can take to support the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth. Also, outlines effects on education and mental health regarding this population and what can schools can do to foster a nurturing environment.  

Teachers having a conversation with students

Provides best practices and includes resources school leaders and teachers can utilize as they work to achieve a positive school climate, lower disciplinary issues and enhance school safety.

Parents and stuents comforting one another

Focuses on changing norms, environments, and behaviors in ways that can prevent ACEs from happening in the first place as well as to lessen their harms when they do occur.

Front page of The Invisible Faces of Runaway and Homeless Youth resource

Highlights efforts by the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to respond to and provide services for runaway youth.

Cover page of the A review of instruments for measuring social and emotional learning skills among secondary school students resource

Identifies reliable and valid instruments that measure collaboration, perseverance, and self-regulated learning among secondary school students (e.g. to support state and local education agencies).

Video still.

Introduces videos on ways in which teachers can create an emotionally safe classroom to foster learning, and ways in which they can deal with emotions and conflicts that can be an obstacle to learning. 

Related Resources




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