1. Introduction: Why Environment Matters, cont.
appropriate for their target audience and implement those strategies with sensitivity across multiple domains, prevention has the greatest likelihood of success. (Kumpfer ). Ideally, to be effective, prevention programs need to be grounded in the values that define the culture of the target audience. (Hecht, et al. 2003: 234) Environmental approaches executed with cultural sensitivity are one strategy long encouraged by CSAP, since to be culturally appropriate means to mirror the values, characteristics, preferences and expectations of the group (CSAP 2003:16).
Prevention not only contributes to the individual child’s chances of thriving and remaining drug-free. Prevention also contributes to future generations by positively impacting not only current norms, but also future norms of the families, schools and communities that these children will help to create throughout the course of their life times. Clearly, a goal of prevention, like public health in general, is to understand, respect, and strengthen local culture(s) in ways that will improve health, in this case for the attainment of a drug-free lifestyle. In each domain the goals of prevention are: 1) to support and encourage behaviors and norms (customs, values, beliefs and practices) that are protective and, at the same time, 2) to discourage and reduce or eliminate behaviors and norms that place children and others at risk.
However you look at it, whichever evidence-based strategies, policies and/or programs you embrace, environment plays an important role in child development. Prevention professionals, like other public health professionals, act as change agents, doing their best to make the environment in which children grow up conducive to healthy outcomes and to provide opportunities for social interactions that will foster realization of the child’s full potential for health and happiness. Success will benefit the individual child and her/his community now and in the future. It is my sincere hope that the statistics and discourse contained in this County Profile will serve you in your prevention efforts for the children of your county and our world!