Having a sense of belonging involves more than simply knowing other people. It is also focused on gaining acceptance, attention and support from others, as well as having the opportunity to provide the same to other people.
When the pandemic interrupted our lives and changed the way we live, this meant that suddenly many of our young people’s main sources of connection with peers and extended family members was removed overnight without warning. As human beings, we have a basic emotional and biological need for connection. It provides us with feelings of identity, security, support, acceptance and community.
Students who have a sense of belonging will experience these feelings which in turn supports their academic, psychological and social development. When young people come together again after a period of instability, there is a period of adjustment. Whilst the rules of the group may be established, acceptance remains paramount and can therefore mean some behaviours become far from rational, making it difficult for their brain to focus on things, such as learning. All these factors combined, leave young people open to being vulnerable. It can sometimes tempt them into making choices or becoming involved in situations they might not ordinarily consider.
As a result of the pandemic, there are still many young people struggling to connect and regain their sense of belonging. This Special Report provides guidance to families who find themselves in this situation. We hope you take a moment to reflect on the information offered, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If this raises any concerns for you, a loved one or the wellbeing of your child, please seek medical or professional help.