Prevention: Everyone's Responsibility, Everyone's Reward

Why do some people get involved in risky behavior while others avoid trouble, and lead seemingly normal, healthy lives?  The answers are as varied as the individuals themselves, but much of the current research indicates that the solutions lie within the overall umbrella term, “prevention.”  The traditional drug-free model of “Just Say No” has been expanded over the past two decades to include the more contemporary notion of “protective factors” that help us develop resilience and positive life skills, even in the face of adversity and challenges.

Most public health experts agree that prevention is much more than a one-time exposure to this important message.  Sure, the PTA guest speaker who gives a compelling account of the perils of drinking and driving, or the police booth at the county fair welcoming kids with stickers and a chance to be photographed with the youth officer, are efforts well worth the price.  But, prevention is a life-long journey that begins very young.  The exciting news is that is crosses all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, so we all can, and do, benefit from the Prevention model.  We can surround ourselves with these “protective factors” to promote and environment that moves us toward resiliency by:

-         increasing youth bonding with adults and peers

-         setting good examples of healthy lifestyle choices

-         teaching life skills

-         providing care and support

-         setting and communicating high expectations

-         providing opportunities for meaningful participation

All of these protective factors, in combination with education and awareness help reduce the tendency toward negative and destructive decision-making.  By regularly supporting positive lifestyle choices and activities, we create an environment of security, coupled with a sense of responsibility to ourselves and others.  These ideals are the foundation of a solid Prevention Model and their proven effects are the catalyst toward healthy living.  We all suffer the consequences of poor lifestyle choices, whether buy victimization of violence, losing loved ones to substance abuse, financially absorbing the costs of obesity, smoking and heart disease, or being forced to endure someone else’s second-hand smoke.  Conversely, we all reap the benefits of prevention by developing and engaging families in activities that promote healthy lifestyles.  We can be happier and healthier, starting right now…let’s all do our part to contribute positively to ourselves, our families and our communities!

(archived 5/31/08)