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Nurturing Hearts & Noggins

Promoting academic, social, and emotional learning for lifelong success
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Is SEL the Cure for School Violence?

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been an increase in research, media stories, town hall meetings and even blogs about thwarting the violence within our schools. As I was looking over several articles just before the holiday break (some written by notable researchers and scholars, and some written by educational bloggers, including a local Chicago resident), I noticed one pronounced common thread within all of them-- Social and Emotional Learning was deemed the answer. A couple of the headlines I came across included: Teach Social-Emotional Learning for Better Schools, Safer Neighborhoods; and To Keep Kids Out of Trouble–and Prison–Teach Them to Understand their Emotions.

What many are coming to recognize is that school policies and teaching techniques that are designed and implemented with the explicit intent of supporting students' social and emotional development, works. School districts reporting success with school-wide or district-wide implementation of SEL, typically report less anger, aggression, and violent behaviors from their students as well.

In a March 2013 Huffington Post article, Teaching Emotions: A Different Approach to Ending School Violence, the author states, "In our larger society, our children learn in school that being a good or kind person is not as important as being a smart or a winning one. They learn that knowing how to work with other people is not as important as coming up with the right answer oneself. There is no emphasis placed on developing the skills to identify emotions and seek help when they are overwhelming." She then asks, "Could the tragedy at Sandy Hook (Elementary School in Newtown, CT) have been prevented if Adam Lanza (the shooter) had grown up going to schools where he was encouraged to express his emotions and solve conflicts creatively–or better yet, trained and supported by his classmates and teachers to do so?"

While that is a question that we will never know the answer to, we do know that an increasing number of schools and districts are willing to do the work to make these types of schools a reality for all students.

For more information on school-wide implementation or integrating SEL into the classroom, please contact Durriyyah Kemp at 708-449-4320 or

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I get really sad by reading articles suchs as this one. Why man? Why? We really need to engage more, parents and teachers has to improve their communication more. Society in general, school mainly, is becoming split up. We have to take actions and care for the best. I pray time will always make thins better. Sincere, Bo Perroni
by Bosse Perroni on Monday 1/20/2014

No offense but don't you think that Teachers nowadays are OVERBURDENED with extra works. Teacher can only teach a child but it is still the responsibility of parents to instill the values in a child. Aman Lee
by Aman Lee on Tuesday 1/21/2014

Thank you for your comment. Yes, you are absolutely correct concerning the role of parents. Social and Emotional Learning should definitely begin in the home. However, it is necessary for schools to work in partnership with parents to teach the skills. School is the most social environment that most children will be in, thus it is ripe for teaching critical social and emotional skills. Research also shows that schools do a better job of teaching these skills due to students' expectations for learning. If you have the time, please check out: It details some interesting findings about SEL outcomes.So, while I agree with your assessment of parent responsibilities, schools also play a vital role in equipping young people with critical skills for success.
by Durriyyah Kemp on Tuesday 1/21/2014