There is more to the international transfer of prevention programs than just hitting the “copy and paste” buttons. The introduction of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program to Ireland offers insights into how to succeed.
Public health approaches seek to prevent impairments to health and development by changing the behavior or exposure to risks of a specified population. Examples include immunization programs which, if accepted by a sufficient proportion of the population, will provide protection against exposure to disease. In social contexts, the effectiveness of public health approaches often depends on people wanting to behave like other people. For example, a public health approach might seek to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed by the average drinker, on the assumption that consumption among heavier drinkers will follow suit.
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Few people working with children will have heard the term “prevention scientist,” let alone know what one is or does. Yet this relatively new breed of researcher is behind the growing list of evidence-based programs being promoted in western developed countries. A new publication puts them under the microscope.
Crime and antisocial behavior prevention efforts have flourished over the last 10 years in the US. This progress can and should be used to help communities improve the life chances of their young people, a recent update urges.
Given the well-known barriers to implementing evidence-based programs, is it better to identify their discrete elements and trust practitioners to combine them in tailored packages depending on the needs of the child and family in question?