n South African Journal of Education - Schools as enabling environments : editorial

Volume 34, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



Children and youth need safe and supportive schools if they are to succeed in school, to develop in a healthy manner, and to thrive. These needs are particularly great for children who are vulnerable, namely those who struggle with trauma, the adversities of poverty, and the challenges of racism, ethnocentrism, religious prejudice, and disability. Although disruptive encounters where students feel unsafe may evoke learning for some students, others succumb to them, whether due to genetic based sensitivity (Belsky & Pleuss, 2009), allostatic load (McEwen, 1998), or lack of social support (Masten, 2014). Schools can keep students safe by providing a supportive, respectful, and a caring environment, where students are both secure from physical harm and emotional toxicities (such as bullying, and prejudice), and nourished by community connections to caring teachers and students (Osher, Dwyer, Jimerson & Brown, 2012; Osher, Woodruff & Sims, 2002; Shonkoff, Garner, The Committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health, The Committee on early childhood, adoption, and dependent care & The Section on developmental and behavioural pediatrics, 2012).

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