SCOPE Thought Piece, Question #7: Would you recommend a centralized prevention office or function for schools and college campuses? If so, what would an ideal centralized prevention function look like in your view?

Linda Langford, Sc.D.

Research shows that prevention initiatives will be more effective if multiple components are coordinated and work in sync, so they operate synergistically. Coordination and synergy can occur at multiple levels: programs, policies and services addressing the same issue will be more effective if they support and reinforce each other, and ideally prevention efforts addressing different problems will also work in sync. Whether a centralized structure is the best method to achieve this result will depend on the campus.

Each campus can assess its current state of coordination, identify what needs to occur to improve coordination and then consider which mechanism(s) would be most helpful in achieving that result. Some campuses achieve a high level of coordination without a single office or function because it is part of the professional culture to share information and to be collaborative. Other campuses engage in collaborative planning through a standing task force or coalition. Another option is to hold periodic meetings with the focused goal of coordinating diverse prevention efforts. Other campuses do elect to have a centralized office. The optimal choice is the one that works best for that campus.

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