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Looking at the Bigger Picture

The Core Problems

Today’s school system is faced with a multitude of difficulties:

  • Below average test scores
  • A lack of respect for teaching staff
  • Poor student engagement
  • Low levels of self-discipline

Each of these conditions contributes to substantially increased frustration for both students and teachers. These challenges result in teacher turnover, decreased student attendance, and an average of 1.2 million American students dropping out each year.
Students with a deficiency in mental and emotional resilience show an increase in rates of depression, suicide, and drug use. It’s disheartening to hear that a student’s inability to understand their emotions can have such drastic consequences, but Resilience is here to change that. 

Statistics

Low Test Scores

According to Pew Research in 2015, the U.S. placed an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world.

In School Bullying

Roughly 28% of American adolescents in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying and 20% of adolescents in grades 9-12 have as well. Bullying has shown to escalate into cases of sexual harassment, domestic abuse, depression, violence, drug use, decreased academic achievement, and criminal activity. These atrocities affect both bullies and their victims. With today’s technological advancements, cyber-bullying has become an increasing issue in schools as well. 

In School Drug Use

Drug use affects adults and adolescents alike. A survey conducted in 2014 indicated that 21.5 million Americans (ages 12 and older) suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, substance abuse and mental disorders have been shown to go hand-in-hand, as the same 2014 survey has also found that 80% of Americans suffering from a substance abuse problem are also struggling with a mental disorder.

School Shootings

According to EveryTown for Gun Safety, 3 million adolescents are exposed to shootings every year. 2,700 of these adolescents are shot and killed and 14,500 of these adolescents are shot and injured. Sixty percent of adolescent gun-related deaths – which is roughly 1,600 cases each year – are cases of homicide, many of which are connected to domestic abuse. An additional 35% of adolescent gun-related deaths are cases of suicide – which is roughly 900 cases per year.

Depression

Depression goes far beyond an individual just being “sad.” Various symptoms of depression can include poor performance in school, low self-esteem, defiant behavior toward authority figures, lacking enthusiasm, energy or motivation, etc. Experiencing these symptoms for longer than a span of two weeks may indicate that an individual is depressed.
1 in 5 American teens suffers from clinical depression. Adolescents that have depression do not always understand or express their feelings very well and may conceal their emotions from those around them, which makes it difficult for loved ones to know what they’re going through.

For more information and statistics on depression, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/.

Suicide

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there is no single cause of suicide. Suicide occurs when stressors exceed the coping abilities of someone who has been suffering from mental health conditions, feelings of hopelessness and despair, etc. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
In 2015, Youth Risk Behaviors conducted a survey in the U.S. that found that 8.66% of adolescents in 9th through 12th grade made at least one suicide attempt in a span of 12 months. This survey also showed that girls attempted suicide more than twice as often as boys did (Girls: 11.6% vs. Boys: 5.5%). What really puts the devastating nature of this epidemic into perspective is the fact that an average of 123 Americans commit suicide every day.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please know you are not alone. The suicide hotline is available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255.

School Assaults and Domestic Abuse

Some adolescents are not being bullied or peer pressured at school, but are struggling emotionally and academically because of the atrocities they’ve experienced at home. 1 in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence perpetrated by an intimate partner each year, and 90% of these children are direct eyewitnesses to this violence.

Why SEL?

With US test scores ranking below 36 globally, depression growing nationwide, over 70,000 drug overdose deaths per year, over 44,000 suicides, over 15,000 murders, we experience over 120,000 preventable deaths due to mental and emotional issues that can be reduced through a formal education in Social Emotional Learning. The United States needs to implement a formal, systematic approach to the root cause of these problems.

It is evident that most of these core problems are interconnected, and that addressing one will indirectly address them all. The central theme that connects these core problems is a lack of self-control, self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management. These are all skills that can be acquired and developed by the strengthening of emotional intelligence.