Protective Behaviours


The Protective Behaviours Process was developed in the 1970s by a social worker who worked in primary schools in Wisconsin, USA.  It teaches people how to find ways to feel safer when faced with life’s ups and downs, and also that we can talk with someone about anything including things which feel awful or feel small.  Using a range of strategies, the process can be helpful for people of all ages, including very young children, professionals, families and organisations.

Protective Behaviours can be used by practitioners working in all agencies including schools, police, health, social care and third sector.  It can be used either whole group, small group or 1-to-1.  As well, although very helpful for children or adults where there is identified need or indicators of vulnerability, it can be helpful when used as a universal intervention to remind people of their right to feel safe at home, at work, at a party, at school, in a meeting, online or in the community.

Using Protective Behaviours in the field can be facilitated through a range of resources which one has to hand so no additional “specialised” materials are needed for service delivery.  Through training, practitioners learn to use either every day resources/items they have available or to follow the interests of the person or group they are working with.  For example, for a young child under 5, their main interest might be a superhero character.  In that case, the practitioner would be able to deliver Protective Behaviours work themed around that character to keep the child’s interest and ensure the sessions are engaging, guaranteeing optimal engagement.

The hope is that people will feel safer and more able to find a way to share anything they want to.  As well, it can help to reduce violence and lead to safer homes, and communities.