SCOPE Thought Piece, Question #1: What are the critical challenges facing the prevention field?

Jane Stapleton, M.A.

Some of the most critical challenges facing the prevention field relate to the need to connect prevention researchers (the people who are developing prevention strategies) with prevention practitioners (the people who are implementing prevention strategies). Ultimately, prevention strategies should be developed in conjunction with practitioners (including those people who do prevention and those who provide direct services/support) and researchers. Once this collaboration occurs, prevention strategies should be evaluated to ensure effectiveness and to make sure that the strategies resonate with the target audience.

Other challenges include the need for practitioners to have access to funding and resources to implement prevention strategies and to conduct evaluations of what that they implement.  Additionally, prevention practitioners need to have access to the target audiences they wish to reach (on college campuses, this means having access to first-year students, members of the Greek system, athletic teams, members of student organizations, etc.). Often, this means that our institutions need to prioritize prevention and recognize that prevention is not a band aid fix to a problem (i.e. an after the fact thing), but is a strategy to create a community that doesn’t tolerate sexual and relationship violence and stalking.  Finally, our institutions need to recognize the value of prevention and ultimately be willing to support prevention efforts because they make our campuses safer and everyone benefits from this…. Not just potential victims.

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