I stand behind Dr. Bob Holmberg’s recent statement that social-emotional learning is necessary for every child’s development (Maine Voices, June 1). I’m pleased to see the success of early childhood consultation and outreach programs in Washington County.

My career in law enforcement has given me the opportunity to see the impact of social-emotional skills first-hand. Programs that teach kids to regulate their own behavior and interact constructively with others help cultivate well-adjusted young adults who are more likely to stay in school and hold jobs – and less likely to become involved in crime.

A recent 20-year study confirmed the negative impact a lack of social-emotional skills can have. The study found that an increasing number of children lack these skills, which led them to difficulty finding employment and working with others down the road.

Research highlighted by the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids shows that a support network of teachers, peers and family is important for developing social-emotional skills and keeping every child on the right track. Criminal offenders, on the other hand, often never learn to cope, communicate or cooperate with others in ways that prepare them to become productive, well-adjusted citizens.

Considering the poor outcomes that result from a lack of social-emotional skills, it’s important that we provide children with support networks to succeed. We can advance toward that goal through programs like those proposed in L.D. 1321. Ultimately, the best way to be tough on crime is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Michael Sauschuck

chief of police

Portland