Salesian preventive system is the educative method developed by the Salesians upon the pedagogical experience of Saint John Bosco with poor youngsters in 19th century Turin. It is based on three pillars: Reason, Religion and Loving-Kindness. Even if Don Bosco appears as the main representative of this method of education and formation of the young, others too have contributed to its previous development like Philip Neri and Francis de Sales. It is also opposed to what Don Bosco refers to in education as the repressive system of education.
Don Bosco focused on the “health, wisdom and holiness” of his boys and proposed a lifestyle comprising “cheerfulness, study and piety.” He attained so great a dedication of himself to the young, in the midst of difficulties sometimes of an extreme nature, because of an intense charity that united in him in an inseparable manner, love of God and love of his neighbour. In this way he was able to establish a synthesis between evangelising activity and educational work.
The rules of good behaviour must be reasonable and essential; their necessity for living happy, holy lives must be clearly, patiently explained and exemplified. This system focuses on a progressive enlightenment of the minds of the young by opening them to the world, to the realities of life and the appeal of values which promotes dignity and truth. It stresses the use of common sense, avoiding anything artificial and the relationship between faith and reason.
Don Bosco gave first priority to personal relationships. He liked the term “family spirit” to define the educator-student relationship. Long experience had convinced him that without familiarity it was not possible to show love, and unless love is shown there cannot arise that confidence which is an indispensable condition for successful educative activity.