by Jose Kuttianimattathil, SDB
Fr. Jose Kuttianimattathil, another Salesian from the Bangalore Salesian Province, is our final contributor in this issue of the Journal. The author presents the Preventive System of Don Bosco as an efficient and effective way to promote child rights and for working with children who manifest behavioral difficulties. Fr. Kuttianimattathil expounds on the relationship between the declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Preventive System of Don Bosco. He does this by comparing various articles in both documents. One will discover the great similarities between these documents and how the rights of children, which are relatively very recent, were things close “to the heart of Don Bosco” and which he “tried to ensure for his youngsters. Such comparison actually places Don Bosco ahead of his own time. Indeed, there are similar and common basic principles on which both the child rights and the Preventive System are build. The author concludes that these principles are practically the same and this, in itself, is enriching. Both documents have “the same goal, namely the integral development and total well-being of children.” Therefore, they can “support each other and can be enriched by each other.” However, both Child Rights and the Preventive System have some tasks ahead to be able “to accomplish their goals on behalf of children.” These tasks include spiritual care, formation of staff responsible in both areas, creating a healthy environment, help develop guidelines for positive discipline and formulate a protocol for the protection of minors. The author affirms that the Preventive System had anticipated many insights brought later through the progress made in psychology after Don Bosco’s time. The Saint had developed his system based on the “insights of educationalists” that came before him. Still, his method, according to the author, anticipate “many insights that would later be articulated by psychologists and therapists dealing with persons with problems.” Fr. Kuttianimattathil then moves to explain what positive discipline is and how this can help in working with children who have behavioral difficulties. He compares the principles of this type of discipline with the positive attitude and approach found in Don Bosco’s Preventive System. Don Bosco’s positive approach stems from his own experience as a young boy and from the environment he was brought up in. Later he applied this experience when he conceived his Preventive System and which, the author, concludes is effective in dealing with children with behavioral difficulties.