Models of Prevention: The Spectrum of Prevention


Prevention is more than keeping one frustrated parent from hitting a child. It requires change on a societal level.


How do we get our arms around a task that large?


The Spectrum of Prevention is one model that clearly shows the layers and levels of activities and strategies that need to occur at the same time in order to make a large impact on a complex social issue like child abuse and neglect.


The six levels of the Spectrum form a framework for a clear and comprehensive understanding of prevention. At each level, the most effective activities related to prevention objectives need to be identified and prioritized. What needs to be done, for example, to make childcare providers and doctors more cognizant of abuse? As these activities are identified, they will lead to interrelated actions at other levels of the Spectrum.


The Spectrum was originally developed by Larry Cohen, MSW, and became widespread through his work with the Prevention Institute. It has been used nationally in initiatives targeting traffic safety, violence prevention, injury prevention, nutrition, and fitness.


Because the Spectrum identifies multiple levels of simultaneous intervention, it encourages people to move beyond the idea that prevention is simply about teaching healthy behaviors to individuals or groups.