Why do we need SEL?

During these in certain and stressful times, our children and families are facing unprecedented challenges, including increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness, financial hardship, housing and food insecurity, and interpersonal violence.

Young people, especially, are struggling the most with their mental health, showing increased levels of depression, anxiety, stress, emotional distress, suicidal ideation, and substance use.

Studies show the following alarming statistics on the health and well-being of young people across our state:

  • According to the Annie E. Casey 2021 Kids CountR Profile, South Carolina ranks 41st in Overall Child Well-being, 44th in Education, 37th in Economic Well-being, 46th in Health, and 38th in Family and Community.
  • The suicide rate in South Carolina has increased by 34% in the past 10 years.
  • Violent crime rates in South Carolina have increased by 11% since 2015. The murder rate increased by 25% in 2020.
  • Drug overdose deaths increased by 52% in South Carolina in 2021.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey of South Carolina high school students uncovered some more grim statistics:

  • 25% were currently drinking alcohol.
  • 19% were currently using marijuana.
  • 15% had taken pain pills without a doctor’s prescription.
  • 26% were offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property.
  • 39% had sex; 91% unprotected.
  • 18% had carried a weapon.
  • 24% had been in a physical fight.
  • 21% had been bullied.
  • 33% felt sad or hopeless.
  • 19% considered suicide, 11% attempted suicide, and there was a 43% increase in suicides by those ages 10 to 24.
  • 250,000 children live in poverty in South Carolina.
There is strong evidence that educational learning with a foundation of SEL implementation can help prevent these statistics from being a reality for our children.

Next: What are the benefits of SEL?