Klea Scharberg

Are We Providing Safe and Supportive Environments for Each of Our Students?

Recently ASCD's Educational Leadership staff were contacted by a reader who, while doing research, came across an article from the December 1992/January 1993 issue on students at risk that struck close to his personal experience. He wrote,

Having come from an abusive home and just recently graduated, I think this needs to be read by every educator. I grew up middle class, and was a very "bright" student. I was beaten regularly, and I had many of these markers. I remember trying to tell a teacher about my situation, and her laughing me off. I have dealt with my issues, but I was hoping you could somehow market or re-publish this article, although it was originally published 20 years ago. I believe it needs to be seen.

In the issue overview, then Editor-in-Chief Ron Brandt wrote, "[N]o one doubts the challenge of educating children who are tired, hungry, and perhaps abused, children who may have no permanent home and who seldom have the kind of interaction with supportive adults so necessary for mental and moral development in their growing years. To succeed in school, most such children require special attention." As educators we know that each child has specific needs and that one of the most powerful factors in student success is the personal, caring relationships that are developed between students and teachers. The article authors, Thelma Bear, Sherry Schenk, and Lisa Buckner, share this view, stating

Probably no adult is more trusted by children who have been abused than a beloved and caring teacher. Teachers have an opportunity afforded few adults to identify abused children and to start a process that will restore safety in the child's world. However, many teachers have not been adequately prepared to deal with the complex social issues that have so strongly affected abused children. We want to give teachers a knowledge base about child abuse, describe possible interventions, and communicate an understanding of the emotional issues involved.

Please take a few minutes to read the Educational Leadership article and the blog posts linked below and listen to educators talk about the importance of relationships on the Whole Child Podcast. Personal relationships that create safe and supportive environments for each of our students can and do make a difference in a young person's life.

Be well and make sure that each child in your school and in your community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

ASCD's Whole Child Initiative has a new Twitter handle! Follow @WholeChildASCD for updates, news, articles, connections, and more.

Comments (1)

Dave Abramson

January 13, 2014

I thought you might want to know that the link to this website I accessed from New York state Education Department website.  The problem is NYSED website has links for students that are extremely vile and inappropriate for kids.  The link is http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:4Yb0QddVKucJ:www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/expandedlearningopps/esd-svp/Resources.html+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us then click on the link “allthetests”.  NYSED.gov needs to be disciplined for this, hope you agree and can do something about it.  Thank You. Dave

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