Why is prevention important?

As teachers and administrators, we strive to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment, while attempting to educate students who possess an incredibly wide range of academic and social abilities. We are also acutely aware that a proportion of our students have difficulty keeping up with their peers or meeting standards for learning and/or behavior. Once these students fall behind in school it becomes more and more difficult for them to "catch up". This leads to more and more serious academic and behavior problems and an increased likelihood that these students will drop out of school, will need to be excluded from school, or will have other negative outcomes.

Most of us tend to want to continue our normal educational routine, and then deal with problems and crises as they occur. We also tend to grasp at any solution which would seem to "fix" the immediate problem so that we can get back to our normal routine. However, as we all know, this "getting by" approach over time leads to an increasing rate of various types of problems and crises, usually with an increasing intensity. Sometimes these crises spiral out of control and consume all of our energy and resources. Administrators in particular feel that their entire day is spent dealing with the latest crisis.

Whether it relates to student academics, behavior, or safety, it is often difficult to maintain a focus on how that crisis circumstance could have been prevented or averted. That is compounded by the fact that effective efforts to prevent problems or crises are often hard to document. It is virtually impossible to document the costs, time consumed, problems created, and after-effects of problems which did not occur! Kauffman (1999) has documented many of these types of issues related to prevention in an article in which he identifies many of the factors that "prevent" an emphasis on "prevention".

Student Engagement