by Rik Biesmans, SDB
translated by Gaston De Neve, SDB
In his article "Assistance: The Essence of Don Bosco’s Preventive System (1876-1884)," Belgian Salesian Rik Biesmans offers insight into the consolidation of Don Bosco’s educational style, especially during the years 1876 through 1884. The first part of a two-part study, the article centers on the theme of "assistance" and how this is essential to the foundation of Don Bosco’s Preventive System. Fr. Biesmans sheds light on the probable historical and social context which influenced Don Bosco’s choice of the Preventive System, which sets Don Bosco aside from other pedagogues of his time and offers an innovation in the education of the young. It was also a new system which was finding widespread approval and recognition outside the Salesian Congregation. The Salesian educational system does not permit corporal punishment or other types of punishment in use in Don Bosco's time. Rather, it offered assistance to them through the constant presence of educators, who, by being with and among their students, prevent any wrongdoing; and if any wrongdoing is committed, the issue is resolved through dialogue and mutual respect.