Teen and younger child mix things in bowls at a table- maybe they are making a meal?

Prevention of substance use and gambling disorders is NOT simply about telling kids not to do these things. Effective prevention starts with identifying what children and youth in the community need, and then meeting that need with research-backed strategies.

Risk & Protective Factors: The Foundation for Effective Prevention

Risk factors are those things that increase the chance a child will become vulnerable to making risky or unhealthy decisions. Risk factors include:

A chart of the risk factors for addiction, mental illness, violence, and other issues.

Protective factors, on the other hand, help lower to counteract risk factors, and increase the likelihood of a healthy life:

A chart of protective factors, which increase the likelihood a person will avoid addiction, mental illness, truancy, etc, and live a healthy and happy life.

To prevent health and behavior problems, we look to lower risk factors. However, when that’s not possible, we leverage research-backed strategies to increase protective factors that help cancel out risk. It’s a balancing act!

The Preventionist’s Tool

At Compass Mark, we look specifically at the populations we serve in Lancaster, Lebanon, and Chester Counties to design addiction prevention programs that address risk factors and/or boost protective factors.  Our team uses the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) as the foundation for our process. This statewide survey, conducted every two years, assesses youth in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 regarding their behavior, experiences, and attitudes around substance use, gambling, mental health, and more.

The survey also asks youth about the risks and strengths in their lives: factors such as parental attitudes toward drug use, depressive symptoms, handgun availability, and whether they feel connected to home, school and their neighborhood.

Review the full reports for 2019:

To chat with us about choosing an addiction prevention program for your school, youth group, or organization, contact our team at 717-299-2831.

Risk & protective factor images from the 2019 Pennsylvania Youth Survey, funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)