By David Lee on December 16, 2010 · tagged as , , ,

Advancing the science of prevention

Where is the community in prevention practice?  So many materials, trainings and resources are focused on individuals.  Even most research uses the individual as the unit of analysis.  Community based efforts are essential for effective comprehensive prevention.

In the recent article Disseminating Effective Community Prevention Practices: Opportunities for Social Work Education in the journal Research on Social Work Practice, J. David Hawkins and colleagues make the case for community based prevention efforts in social work practice.

Hawkins describes community coalitions as prevention infrastructures.  Based on the research on PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) and the Communities That Care System, Hawkins identifies skills and competencies necessary for success coalition coordinators.

I agree that we need teach more people about how to conduct community level prevention efforts. While these efforts discuss “violence” and not sexual and domestic violence specifically, the lesson learned can be very helpful in our prevention efforts.

Here is the abstract and link to the article on the journal’s web site:

Disseminating Effective Community Prevention Practices: Opportunities for Social Work Education.

Hawkins JD, Shapiro VB, Fagan AA. Research on Social Work Practice 2010; 20(5): 518-527.

Click here for a link to the article on the journal’s web site.

(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)

In the United States about 17% of adolescents meet diagnostic criteria for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Six million young people receive treatment services annually for mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. These problems affect 1 in 5 families and cost $247 million annually (O’Connell, Boat, & Warner, 2009). Some strategies for preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in young people have been developed, tested, and found to be effective in preventing the onset, persistence, and severity of psychological disorders, drug abuse, and delinquency. Unfortunately, tested and effective prevention policies, programs, and practices are not widely used (O’Connell, Boat, & Warner, 2009). This paper highlights recent advances in prevention science and describes some opportunities and challenges in advancing the use of science-based prevention in communities. The chapter concludes by exploring the potential role of social work education in developing a workforce ready to increase community access to effective prevention strategies

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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