Providing a safe space for youth is a core value of many youth-serving organizations and a key element of youth development. Youth programs strive to support youth in the difficult situations that they face and to prevent negative health outcomes like teen pregnancy, sexual violence, suicide and depression, bullying, teen dating violence, STIs, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and others. Across all issue areas, experts agree that providing a "climate of safety" is one way to prevent negative outcomes for youth.
"If every young person had at least one adult, either at home or at school or in their community, that they could talk to, that is how to prevent suicide." - Ron White, Director, Samaritans Massachusetts
The BE SAFE Youth Leadership Board (YLB) report that a safe space is created by the people in the space and is:
The YLB was clear in what they felt created an “unsafe space.”:
Based on this definition, the definitions we heard from staff at youth-serving organizations, and the definitions in the research literature, we worked with the National Institute on Out of School Time (NIOST) to develop the Program Climate Self-Assessment tool. This tool takes these definitions and turns them into a concrete tool to help you assess your program.