Fostering a sense of safety

Apr. 16, 2020

Contributed by Andrea Oka

A sense of safety is the belief that your needs—and the needs of those you care about—will be met. It is a belief that you will be protected from harm and that those around you will be safe.

Educators can expect that many students’ senses of safety have been compromised. This is a unique situation in which institutions that provide safety and structure are closed, and news outlets report death rates and hospital bed shortages. For the many families that are experiencing or will experience significant income loss, this crisis may also mean food insecurity or an inability to pay rent and bills—all of which can severely damage a child’s sense of safety.

But there are steps educators can take to support a sense of safety in children:

  • Reach out, provide space and encourage students to connect with them or another trusted adult or counselor to talk about their safety concerns. Offer students a way to connect if there is something that they need help with or are worried about.
  • Encourage students to talk to friends or family members on the phone. 
  • Help students plan some virtual playdates to distract them from their worries. 
  • Recommend or include fun, free activities that kids can do at home in lesson plans.
  • Encourage families and caregivers to avoid watching the news in front of their children, as that can be upsetting. Keep as much of a regular family routine as possible, and plan activities such as going for walks or hikes or playing board or video games together.