Letter to the Editor

Prevention & Education

As a child I learned an adage that has stuck with me: “It is better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent.” Something I find fascinating about the legislature and political conjecture is how much focus and emphasis is put on intervention versus education and prevention. Judicial and criminal consequences are set up as an expectation rather than as a fail-safe. Because these interventions become our expectations, as a society we invest our time, money, conversation, creativity, problem-solving, etc. to address these issues in their maturation thereby sustaining the very matters we want to be dissolved. This seems to create dichotomies and polarities in proffered solutions.

Rather than investing our resources in the inception of problems, it would be more fruitful, time-efficient, cost-effective, and hopeful to invest in the prevention of problems. Prevention science shows that such a focus has longer lasting effects on individuals, families, and communities than an intervening intention. With a focus on prevention, divisive conversations about resolutions will be nonessential, dispensable, ineffectual, and unnecessary. Education is necessary to pair with prevention in order to sustain prevention’s effectiveness. Some recent legislation in Utah is cottoning on to this and has led to new laws integrating suicide prevention with education (HB 93) and preventing prejudice, racism, stereotyping, and discrimination through purposeful Holocaust education in K-12 social studies standards (SCR 1). These efforts are laudable and hopefully more preventative initiatives will result in future legislative sessions.

As a social worker, I see so many situations that could have been mitigated before ever festering if individuals and families had access to more preventative and educational resources. I am excited by any increase in this regard, however, while those bills that have passed are helpful, they are not enough to turn the tide in and of themselves.

In our rural community, I often hear people disparage resources intended as interventions because there isn’t enough capacity or depth or breadth to the resources presented. I understand this and invite you to seek out prevention and education workgroups to brainstorm solutions that will expand our community’s development. These groups exist and are waiting for your perspective to augment the aims/needs of our community. Together we can be part of solutions that render intervention unnecessary.

Becky Hinchcliff