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PREVENTION. WHAT IS IT?. June 2008. What is Prevention?.

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June 2008

What is Prevention?

  • Prevention is the act of impeding, or preventing, something from happening such as disease or a social condition. Many prevention programs are centered around ways to prevent illness, crime, terrorism, child abuse and neglect, and violence.

Three Stages of Prevention

  • There are three stages of Prevention:

    • Primary

    • Secondary

    • Tertiary

Primary Prevention

  • Primary Prevention programs are also known as “Universal” programs.

  • The target audience of Primary Prevention programs is the general population.

  • The activities used in Primary Prevention are designed to stop maltreatment before it occurs.

  • Programs and services in Primary Prevention promote the general welfare of children and families.

  • Programs with a universal focus seek to raise awareness of issues for the general population, as well as decision makers and professionals.

Activities of Primary Prevention Programs

  • For Child Abuse and Neglect Primary Prevention Programs, activities may include:

    • Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

      • PSAs may be used to promote issues such as healthy parent/child relationships, the dangers of shaking a baby, or how to create a safe sleep environment.

      • PSAs may be one small component of a bigger awareness campaign.

  • Public Awareness Campaigns

    • These campaigns may include a variety of activities such as brochures, presentations, posters, web sites, and other promotional activities.

    • The focus of a campaign could be where and how to report child abuse and neglect orhow parents can best handle stress.

  • Parent education programs and support groups

    • These programs may focus on age appropriate expectations, child development, and the roles and responsibilities of parenting. (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

  • Family support and family strengthening programs

    • These programs enhance a family’s ability to find resources and access existing services.

Secondary Prevention

  • Secondary Prevention programs are aimed at families or communities who are high risk for child abuse and neglect. Services may be targeted for certain populations.

  • For example, a target audience may be parents who are struggling with one of the following: poverty, young parental age, substance abuse, or mental health concerns.

Activities of Secondary Prevention Programs

  • For Child Abuse and Neglect Secondary Prevention Programs, activities may include:

    • Home Visiting Programs that provide support and education to new parents and expecting parents.

    • Parent Support groups that help parents deal with stress and challenges.

  • Parent education programs, such as programs for teen parents.

  • Family resource centers that offer referral information and assistance to families.

  • Respite care programs designed for families that have special needs.

    (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

Tertiary Prevention

  • Tertiary prevention programs are designed for families that have experienced child abuse and neglect.

  • Services provided after the occurrence of child abuse and neglect are designed to prevent the recurrence of future abuse.

Activities of Tertiary Prevention Programs

  • For Child Abuse and Neglect Tertiary Prevention Programs, activities may include:

    • Mental health services for children and families affected by maltreatment in an effort to improve family functioning.

    • Parent support groups that help families transform negative parenting practices into positive parenting behaviors.

  • Parent mentor programs with non-abusive family members serving as role models and providing support to family members.

  • Intensive family preservation services with trained mental health counselors that are available to families 24 hours a day for a short period of time, such as six to eight weeks.

    (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

For Prevention to Work…

  • Prevention efforts need to come from both communities and individuals in order for it to be successful.

  • What can you do in your local community?

For More Information, Visit These Websites

  • Children’s Safety Network,

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway,

  • Child,

  • Idaho Children’s Trust Fund,

Missouri Department of Social Services State Technical Assistance Team


PO Box 208Jefferson City, MO 65102-0208

Telephone: (573) 751-5980(800) 487-1626(8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday – Friday)


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