University of Illinois Extension

Helping Leaders Be 4-H Savvy - University of Illinois Extension

Positive Youth Development Through 4-H Community Clubs

A Physically and Emotionally Safe Environment

The second of the eight critical elements in positive youth development is that of a physically and emotionally safe environment. Youth should not fear physical or emotional harm while participating in the 4-H experience whether from the learning environment itself, from adults, or from their contemporaries. The premise is that young people will learn better and participate more fully when they are in an environment that encourages honesty, trust and respect among all youth and adults.

4-H volunteers might consider the following questions: In our 4-H club…

Some practices the 4-H club might want to implement if they have not already done so are:

In emotionally safe environments, children express their thoughts and ideas without fear of being laughed at. Youth and adults feel emotionally safe when there are no put-downs or disrespectful behavior. Consistency in youth programs help youth learn what is to be expected. Structured activities help to ensure that all youth feel included. By implementing and following a well-developed risk management plan, volunteers can help ensure a safe physical environment for youth in which they are free to try new things, make special friends, and grow in knowledge and maturity.

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