SCOPE Thought Piece, Question #8: Should prevention efforts be piecemeal or strategic within risk areas to maximize effectiveness? How about across risk areas? What suggestions do you have for schools and campuses looking to develop and apply a strategic prevention curriculum, including content, timing, dosage, audience and more?

Brett A. Sokolow, Esq.

Why is prevention such a hard sell?  Some campus leaders accept health and safety tragedies as an inevitable cost of doing business.  Some don’t believe they can be prevented.  Some believe, erroneously, that the costs to prevent outweigh any catastrophic losses that may result from failing to prevent.  Some are apathetic.  Some deny there really is a problem, as with those who have been attacking the 1-in-4 statistic on campus sexual assault since Mary Koss published it.   It is time we realize that directing all our prevention efforts at students is not strategic.  If we can capture the hearts and minds of our campus leaders, we can transform them into prevention’s most engaged proponents.  We have to show them prevention can work, first, though.

I have mentioned the idea of a four-year strategy in each of my answers to the preceding questions (yes, I am on message, too), and I thought it might be useful here to expand on that idea by sharing some of the critical ingredients I think are needed to make it work:

  • an attendance mandate or positive incentive mechanism for the audience;
  • training for trainers;
  • targeted audiences and multi-modal, passive and active messages;
  • attention to primary, secondary and tertiary prevention initiatives;
  • universal, selective and indicated prevention modalities;
  • message boosters;
  • cross-program reinforcement of messages;
  • a pre-planned, developmental curriculum;
  • academic curricular-infusion;
  • faculty support;
  • centralized organization and coordination;
  • outcomes assessment, assessment of attitudinal change and assessment of behavioral change, in the short and long-term;
  • make-up program options for those who miss curricular sessions;
  • and meaningful enforcement/consequences for those who decline to participate fully;

Part of what we want this thought piece to do is catalyze thoughts from readers.  This list is posted in blog form at Can you add to it?  Critique it?  What else should be on the list, or changed?

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