The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice


Levels of Prevention

Prevention of juvenile delinquency may be practiced on three levels:

(1) Primary
(2) Secondary
(3) Tertiary

These three levels correspond to the levels of intervention described in the model of Positive Behavioral Support (PBS), (e.g., (1) School-wide, (2) Targeted, and (3) Intensive) Click here for more information on PBS{ OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports} However, whereas the PBS model generally is concerned with school environments, application of the model to prevention of juvenile delinquency requires expanding such efforts to community and home environments. Nonetheless, the PBS model offers a valuable framework for organizing prevention of delinquency and incarceration.

Primary prevention focuses on avoiding the initial occurrence of a problem. It involves the application of universal strategies; that is, strategies that are applied to intact groups or populations, such as a school-wide discipline plan that is used to help all students in a school meet behavioral and academic expectations. Secondary prevention efforts provide additional support when universal preventative efforts are not sufficient. The focus here is on preventing repeated occurrences of problem behavior through more targeted interventions. For example, students who have more than one disciplinary referral in a given month for fighting may be provided with special instruction in conflict resolution or social skills. Tertiary prevention, the most intensive level of support and intervention, attempts to reduce the impact of a condition or problem on the individual's ability to function in the least restrictive setting. For example, the needs of students identified as having an emotional/behavioral disability are addressed through special education services and behavior intervention plans so that they may benefit from the educational program click here for more information on developing and implementing behavior intervention plans .

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