Rik Biesmans – “Assistance. The essence of Don Bosco’s preventive system (1876-1884) – Part 1” in “Journal of Salesian Studies”

The article centers on the theme of assistance, and how this element is a foundation of
Don Bosco’s Preventive System. The author offers insights on the probable historical and social context which influenced Don Bosco’s choice for the Preventive System.

This set him aside from other pedagogues of his time, offering 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. Expounding on his theme within the Preventive System, Fr. Biesmans asserts that Don Bosco’s system stands or falls on assistance.

The Salesian educational system does not permit corporal punishment or other types of punishment in use at the time of Don Bosco, but rather it offered “assistance” as a constant presence of the educators who by being amongst the students “prevent” any wrongdoing and if any is committed, this is resolved through dialogue and mutual respect.

The choice of dates in the title of the article are important, since according to the author, these were the years of Don Bosco’s consolidation of his educational style.



  • The Official Name of a “Pedagogical System” Already in Use for Many Years
  • Consolidation of the Name or Term
  • On the Meaning of the Word “Preventive” in the term “Preventive System”
  • “Assistance” as the Key to the Preventive System in Education

Reference time period: 1876 – 1884

R. Biesmans, Assistance. The Essence of Don Bosco’s Preventive System (1876-1884) – Part 1, Trad. da G. De Neve, in «Journal of Salesian Studies» 16 (2015) 1, 59-87.

Reference institution:
Institute of Salesian Studies
Institute of Salesian Studies

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