Preventive Education
developed around the early nineteenth century as a method of dealing with juvenile delinquents in remand homes. In France and northern Italy in particular, progressive perspectives on the human being were being promoted in contrast to the repressive model.

The  new strategy of discipline used in remand homes was based on the view that the tendency to evil exists in all humans. Young people who are the most vulnerable, need to be protected from all influences that would morally harm them, rather than be punished for being affected by them.

Such a view caused educators to work hard at constructing educational spaces that would keep youth away from crime, and therefore away from punishments for breaking the law. It was a parental approach that safeguarded the young with kindness, availability and the creation of a family atmosphere. Education and religion were seen as essential to creating positive strategies to forestall physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual damage.

- The encouraging presence of parents at their daughter's first job-interview.
- Educating youth to fundamental rights to prevent them becoming victims of abuse.
- Explaining to young people the reasonableness of a law with a forewarning to respect it at all costs lest they invite punishment.

Don Bosco was impressed by this novel method of education. He even called his educational experience the 'Preventive System'. In doing so, he borrowed the title from the novel method of educating that had been accepted by the more humanistic educational institutions of his time. He chose, thereby, a modern approach to education through loving persuasion, instead of through the medieval method of repression.

[The] preventive system is more centered on the child, on the limitations of his or her age, and therefore calls for a constant and loving assistance by the educator or teacher, who like a father or like a mother is there present, gives advice, guidance and lends support. The end results are family-oriented educational patterns. (Braido, PNR, 7-8) 

Don Bosco chose the 'preventive’ method for another reason. Not only did he wish to manifest the total break from the repressive system so common during his time. He also saw prevention of physical and moral harm through education and love an indispensable solution to the problems of abandoned youth. He saw preventive care the only way to stop juvenile delinquency and socially accepted forms of child exploitation.

[It was] his mindset, which really was ‘preventive’, [which] had inspired him from the first years of his consecration to actually care for ‘poor and abandoned youth’ who needed to be strengthened in advance, to be protected and saved. He started doing this by using means and resources capable of introducing young people to the world of [God’s] grace and helping them grow in it in addition to being constructive as far as their up-keep, their instruction, their professional skills, and their moral and social growth were concerned."( Braido, PNR, 9-10)

Art: René Follet
Further Study:
Wiki: Children's rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
VIDEO: Childline India Foundation