A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Annual Report 1998-99. Programs for Boys and Young Men


Traditionally, adolescent pregnancy prevention research and programs have focused on adolescent girls. It has become increasingly clear, however, that adolescent boys and young men must share that focus. The National Strategy along with the Administration's Fatherhood Initiative have continued to work on ways to expand the Department's efforts to target boys and young men. In 1998, the Office of Population Affairs funded several research grants aimed at improving the knowledge of what works in male involvement by developing new program models. This year, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) funded a project to identify abstinence programs for males, and also supported several meetings to synthesize what is known thus far about male involvement programs.

Title X Male Involvement Grants. In FY 1998, the Office of Population Affairs funded ten research grants, through the Title X Family Planning Program, to support communitybased organizations in developing, implementing, and testing approaches for involving young men in family planning education and reproductive health services programs. Research has shown that young men recognize unintended pregnancy as a serious problem and its prevention as a joint responsibility; nevertheless, drawing them into family planning/reproductive health information and service programs continues to be difficult. This year, the grantees completed their program development and began implementing new approaches to bringing family planning services and education components into programs where young males were already receiving other health, education, and social services.

While each program reflects the specific needs of its community, several themes predominate the interventions. Because most of the programs place significant emphasis on the role of adult men as guides, teachers or examples for younger men in their transition to adulthood, nearly every program is anchored on a strong mentoring component. This component is then often paired with community, cultural and recreational activities, as well as life skills instruction. (Several sites are using the nationally-known Wise Guys curriculum, while others have developed their own curricula for life skills and reproductive health education.) In addition, these programs have seen both the benefit and the appeal of youth development activities. Components such as academic tutoring, sports, and talent shows are used as incentives to draw young men into the project. Finally, some of the grant programs are targeting specific populations such as the Latino community by using culturally appropriate services and language.

Abstinence Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs Focusing on Males. Consistent with the Department's focus on abstinence education, ASPE commissioned a paper, written by the South Carolina State University Policy Analysis Consortium, to identify and describe existing abstinence programs targeting boys and young men. The study will identify 66 programs that provide either abstinencebased (40%) or abstinence only (60%) programming to boys and girls or to boys only. The authors found that the majority of abstinence programs serve 9 to 14 year old boys. The most frequently used service approaches were teen support groups and mentoring types of activities as well as parent/teen classes. The matrix of existing programs will be published and will be regularly updated with new and promising strategies for reaching boys and young men with an abstinence message. A final report will be available in Winter, 1999.

Federal, State, and Local Strategies for Promoting Male Involvement in Teen Pregnancy Prevention. The Department sponsored several meetings to identify innovative male involvement strategies that might be disseminated to a larger audience. The meeting results are being summarized in a report that outlines multipronged strategies for reaching a much wider population. The report draws upon the experiences of numerous local and one statewide (California) male involvement initiatives.

The report will first identify "stakeholder" audiences whose activities stand to benefit from male involvement and who have resources, networks and capacities to help promote and strengthen it. These audiences include: (1) regional, state and local public officials administering family planning, maternal and child health, education and family/social service programs; (2) teen pregnancy prevention programs; (3) responsible fatherhood programs; (4) communitybased reproductive health programs; and (5) male serving programs in the armed services, juvenile justice, prison systems, and youth development and recreation programs.

Specific strategies designed to inform and collaborate with these stakeholder audiences and other communitybased partners include creative use of the media and social marketing, regional and state forums and summits, peertopeer networking opportunities and technical assistance. The goal is to promote and support a view of boys and men wherever they live, learn, work or play as responsible members of familiessons, fathers, spouses, grandfathers.

The report (available in Winter, 1999) will outline some inherent tensions and barriers to promoting male involvement and discusses the most critical challenge to be faced—identifying state and national leaders and vehicles to coordinate and steer the wide ranging efforts needed to effectively promote male involvement.