Evaluating a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program for Middle School Boys
- Wise Guys was well implemented and provided a meaningful supplement to the sexuality and reproductive health education typically offered in study schools.
- Compared to the standard school curriculum, Wise Guys did not change boys’ likelihood of sexual initiation after two years. On the two-year follow-up survey, only 1 in 10 boys reported ever having had sexual intercourse.
- The low overall rate of sexual activity limited the program’s potential effect during the study period, a common challenge for assessing the effects of teen pregnancy prevention programs serving a young population.
- The program did, however, increase boys’ knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted infections, increased boys’ support for the view that sexually active youth should use condoms, and strengthened boys’ motivation to avoid getting someone pregnant.
- The program cost $488 per student served.
This brief summarizes findings from a random assignment impact study of Wise Guys, a long-standing, widely implemented curriculum designed to help adolescent males make responsible decisions about their sexual behavior. Nationwide, boys report higher rates of sexual risk behaviors than girls do. In addition, becoming a father as a teenager is associated with completing fewer years of schooling and being less likely to graduate from high school. Recognizing the need for research on programs designed to support adolescent males, the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded Mathematica to evaluate Wise Guys in seven middle schools in and around the city of Davenport, Iowa. A team of two trained facilitators from a local social service provider, Bethany for Children & Families, delivered Wise Guys as a voluntary elective class for 7th-grade boys.
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