The importance of providing youth with opportunities for pro-social involvement

The prevention strategies being implemented by the Prevention WINS coalition are based on risk and protective factors identified through community data. While we work to reduce risk factors such as easy access to alcohol and marijuana, favorable attitudes towards drugs, and families not monitoring their children, we strive to increase factors that protect our children from drug and alcohol use.

According to the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington, two key protective factors are

(1) bonding to pro-social family, school and peers, and

(2) clear standards or norms for behavior.

Families, schools, community organizations, neighbors, and others can promote these protective factors by providing "opportunities for involvement in productive pro-social roles, skills to be successfully involved in these roles, and consistent systems of recognition and reinforcement for pro-social involvement. These factors protect against the development of conduct problems, school misbehavior, truancy, and drug abuse."

Be a part of creating a community that provides opportunities and teaches skills for pro-social involvement and then rewards young people for their involvement. Everyone in the community has a role to play.