By Angela DaRe, Director of Prevention, NCADD Sacramento

This week NCADD is launching our newest prevention endeavor; Prevention Kernels. According to Dr. Dennis Embry, Prevention Kernels are “Simple, low-cost, evidence-based behavior vaccines”.

The idea is simple. Prevention, while a relatively complex field of study for professionals, has research that can actually translate into effective strategies that are easy to understand and quick to implement at home.

Traditional prevention strategies for parents and caregivers, while effective, can be time consuming and costly. Additionally, we have relied heavily on education for parents and kids, while understanding that education about a topic is not likely to change behavior but training children and rewarding them for good behavior creates a sustainable change in that behavior. In the same way that simple hand washing reduces disease, “behavioral vaccines” are used to reduce the likelihood that kids will engage in risky behaviors. For example, when a parent or caregiver rewards a teen for following family rules by not using alcohol and other drugs it is considered an effective behavioral vaccine.

Some examples of other behavioral vaccines include increasing positive family monitoring; reducing youth sleep deprivation by curtailing technology use at night and in their bedrooms, and increasing parent networking among the families of children’s friends.

The Kernels project will be implemented at local apartment communities in Sacramento County and we look forward to using this blog to report on the progress of this Prevention program.