Investing in Emotional Capital


   By: Justin S. N. Boodhoo

   2013-10-15 08:44 PM

Educators and individuals working within the school setting have the unique opportunity to not only teach, but also build relationships with children. From the lens of attachment theory, building strong attachments are key in building a successful relationship, whether it be a parent, friend, or educator, in a relationship, investing in another can be viewed as building emotional capital which “is generally understood as confined within the bounds of affective relationships of family and friends and encompasses the emotional resources you hand on to those you care about” (Reid, 2009, p. 618). Using emotional capital with at “at risk” youth can be effective to reduce crime as shown through an Australian study that focused on schooling responses to crime (Reid, 2009).

In the education system, we have different grades, classrooms, and learning structures aimed at differentiating children, whether it is by grade, language development, or behaviours. It is displayed through different classes for people with learning disabilities, classes focused on ESL students, and classes that focus on early childhood education. In this same way, the education system also, at times, categorizes children by whether they are good, bad, or if they are considered “at risk”. Looking at risk, “the individual approach to ‘risk’ focuses on the attributes of students which make them more susceptible to educational ‘failure’. These attributes tend to be cast in terms of weaknesses or deficiencies in the student” (Reid, 2009, p. 618).  

Gauntlett et al. (2001) “analysis of the impact of community-based prevention and early intervention action concluded that programs delivered in environments such as schools and families are capable of producing outcomes that contribute to stronger and healthier communities and that stronger communities helped develop social capital” (as cited in Reid, 2009, p. 620). This makes sense. A teacher or a person in authority in a school setting can open up an opportunity for growth, especially given the power of influence that educators can have through their interactions with students. Through the use of simple engagement skills such as empathy, student-centered teaching, and unconditional positive regard, educators are able to teach positive social interactions and enhance educational, social, and emotional growth.

Working within a school system, I have experienced building emotional capital firsthand, especially when working with kids who may be labelled “the bad kid”. By showing a genuine and authentic approach to teaching, we “invest” in our children with the hope of deterring negative behaviours in the future by teaching and modelling positive attachments.

So far we have analyzed two interventions in crime reduction. The last article of this series will look at literacy programs as a means to reduce crime.


Reid, C. (2009). Schooling responses to youth crime: building emotional capital. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(6), 617-631.

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