Focusing on the Boys: The Longer-Term Impacts of Wise Guys in Davenport, Iowa

October 24, 2019
Topics:
Youth Services
Projects:
Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) Multi-Component Evaluation, 2011-2018 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Focusing on the Boys: The Longer-Term Impacts of Wise Guys in Davenport, Iowa Cover
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  • Pages 50
  • Published 2019

Introduction

This report presents evidence on the longer-term impacts of the Wise Guys Male Responsibility Curriculum in middle schools in and near the city of Davenport, Iowa. Nationwide, boys report higher rates of sexual risk behaviors than girls do. Becoming a father as a teenager is associated with completing fewer years of schooling and being less likely to graduate from high school. Despite these risks, relatively little adolescent pregnancy prevention research or programming focuses specifically on boys. 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 a rigorous evaluation of Wise Guys in Davenport middle schools. Trained staff from a local nonprofit social service provider, Bethany for Children & Families, delivered the program with federal grant funding to the Iowa Department of Public Health from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).

Research Questions

  1. 1 When delivered as an elective supplement to the regular sex education curriculum, did Wise Guys change boys’ likelihood of sexual initiation after two years?
  2. 2 After two years, did Wise Guys affect boys’ knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or their attitudes toward sexual activity, pregnancy, and relationships?
  3. 3 How much did Wise Guys as implemented in Davenport, Iowa cost to implement?

Purpose

This is the last in a series of reports on the implementation and impacts of Wise Guys in Davenport middle schools. It presents evidence on the program’s longer-term impacts after two years. It also provides information on program costs and documents the study methods.

An earlier report presented evidence on the program’s shorter-term impacts after one year. That report showed that Wise Guys boys had better knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted infections, and expressed greater support when asked about the importance of condom use among sexually active youth (Goesling et al. 2017). Relative to the regular sex education curriculum, the program did not change boys’ risk of sexual initiation, intentions to have sex, relationship attitudes, goal-setting abilities, or communication skills after one year.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • As a supplement to the regular school curriculum, Wise Guys did not reduce boys’ likelihood of sexual initiation; at the end of the two-year follow-up, these rates were low for both research groups.
  • The longer-term impact findings did show, however, that Wise Guys led to a sustained increase in students’ knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted infections after two years, increased their support of condom use, and strengthened boys’ motivation to avoid getting someone pregnant.
  • Wise Guys did not change boys’ intentions to have sex, nor did it change their relationship attitudes, goal-setting ability, or communication skills after two years.

Methods

To test the effectiveness of Wise Guys in Davenport middle schools, the study team used a random assignment evaluation design. Boys assigned to the treatment group could attend the Wise Guys sessions during the regular school day as an elective supplement to the regular school curriculum. Boys assigned to the control group could not attend Wise Guys but continued to receive the sexuality and reproductive health education provided as part of the regular school curriculum. The study team enrolled and randomly assigned a total of 736 boys over three consecutive school years, from 2013–2014 to 2015–2016. Boys in both research groups completed a baseline survey upon enrolling in the study and follow-up surveys one and two years later. Data from the two-year follow-up survey are the focus of this report.

Related Documents

Two earlier reports presented evidence on the implementation of the program and early impacts after one year:

Focusing on the Boys: Implementing Wise Guys in Davenport, Iowa

Focusing on the Boys: The Early Impacts of Wise Guys in Davenport, Iowa

Citation

Covington, Reginald D., Robert G. Wood, and Brian Goesling. (2019). Focusing on the Boys: The Longer-Term Impacts of Wise Guys in Davenport, Iowa. OPRE Report # 2019-97, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

PREP
Personal Responsibility Education Program
Last Reviewed: October 29, 2019