Little Cities of Hope: Prevention – What is it and How Can I Help?

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By Alexandria Anderson

Prevention aims to eliminate and reduce the risk factors that can lead to problem behaviors. Because of this, prevention efforts primarily target youth.

By reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors, we reduce the likelihood the youth will participate in problem behaviors such as substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, school dropout, violence, depression and anxiety.

Prevention efforts can come in many shapes and sizes but usually fall into three categories, including universal, selective and indicated. Universal prevention are efforts focused on the whole population while selective prevention is targeting a specific or higher-risk of people within a population. Indicated prevention is the higher-risk or smaller group of the population that needs targeted prevention efforts.

The best way for individuals and families to get involved and help in prevention efforts is to use the Social Development Strategy. This strategy simply states that providing opportunities for youth (or anybody) to demonstrate or learn a skill and then giving recognition for the skill will lead to bonding between you and the youth (or anybody) you interact with.

This bonding will lead to youth being more likely to follow clear rules or standards and more demonstrations of healthy behavior. The goal here is for youth to be bonded to a pro-social adult who demonstrates healthy behavior and has clear standards that youth can follow. For parents, bonding can be as simple as having dinner together.

The large goal is for youth to know and participate in healthy behaviors. Prevention does this by increasing protective factors and reducing risk factors, so any help from the people a youth interacts with on a daily basis is important. This can be anybody in the community, in their family and at school.

The key takeaway is that we all have a part to play in making sure the future is brighter for youth.

To learn more about protective and risk factors in our local area, please review the 2019 Utah Prevention Needs Assessment Survey that is conducted as part of the Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) Statewide Survey, located at: https://dsamh.utah.gov/reports/sharp-survey

Carbon and Emery counties are part of the Four Corners District: https://dsamh.utah.gov/pdf/sharp/2019/Four%20Corners%20District.pdf

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