Program

May 09, 2014

OVERVIEW

Smart Girls Life Skills Training is an 8-session school-based program that aims to prevent teen pregnancy among middle school-age girls.  In a random assignment study of 17 schools, girls at schools who received Smart Girls Life Skills had significantly larger gains in their personal/self sexuality expectations and significantly larger gains in how often they talked to their parents about people that they dated or liked as compared to their peers in the control group over time, with the largest gains found from pretest to posttest.  However, no impacts were found for social sexuality expectations over time, perceived susceptibility to STIs or negative consequences of sex, and how often students talked to their parents about sex.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Smart Girls Life Skills Training is a gender-specific school-based program that aims to prevent teen pregnancy among middle school girls by teaching positive life skills and behaviors. The program reinforces healthy behaviors and choices by showing how they are linked to positive outcomes instead of trying to discourage less healthy behaviors and choices by showing how they are linked to negative consequences. Additionally, it is guided by the idea that, in order to learn new positive behaviors, students need a chance to practice these behaviors themselves and to see their peers modeling these same behaviors.

The curriculum covers the topics of self-esteem, personal values and decision-making, assertiveness, pregnancy, STIs/HIV, and healthy dating and incorporates videos, skills training, group discussions, role playing, and a question and answer session.  In particular, the curriculum is designed to improve students’ self-esteem, decision-making skills, family connections, and ability to set goals for their future.

The program is delivered through eight weekly 40-minute sessions over eight weeks.  Community health educators recruited from the local public health department with a minimum education level of a bachelor’s degree were trained in the program curriculum; one health educator led each session.  The curriculum is available for purchase.

Target population: Middle school girls

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Graves, K. N., Sentner, A., Workman, J., & Mackey, W. (2011). Building positive life skills the Smart Girls Way: evaluation of a school-based sexual responsibility program for adolescent girls. Health promotion practice12(3), 463-471.

Evaluated population: A total of 854 seventh grade girls recruited from 17 public schools in a central North Carolina county participated in the study.  Participants were, on average, 12 years old at the beginning of the study.  Of those in the treatment group, 44 percent were White, 43 percent were African American, 5 percent were Hispanic, 3 percent were Asian, and 5 percent were another race or ethnicity.  Baseline comparisons suggested that there were no significant differences between the participants in each group in terms of age, race or ethnicity, or family structure.

Approach:

Through random assignment, 633 participants were assigned to a treatment group, which received eight weeks of programming and 221 were assigned to a control group, which received no programming.  Baseline comparisons suggested that there were no significant differences between the participants in each group in terms of age, ethnicity, or family structure.

Student reports on questionnaires were used to assess social sexuality expectations (perceptions of sex before marriage and dating norms), personal/self sexuality expectations (attitudes about sexual health and how sex relates to self-image), and perceived susceptibility to the risks of unprotected sex.  Questionnaires were administered at the beginning of the program, immediately after the end of the program, and again six months later.

Results:

Significant positive impacts were found for two out of five outcomes measures.  Students in the treatment group had larger gains in their personal/self sexuality expectations than did their peers in the control group at post-test, but not at 6-month follow-up.  Additionally, students in the treatment group students experienced significantly larger increases in how often they talked to their parents about people that they liked or dated as compared to their peers in the control group at post-test, but not at 6-month follow-up.

However, no impacts were found for social sexuality expectations, perceived susceptibility to the risks unprotected sex, and how often students talked to their parents about sex.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Graves, K. N., Sentner, A., Workman, J., & Mackey, W. (2011). Building positive life skills the Smart Girls Way: evaluation of a school-based sexual responsibility program for adolescent girls. Health promotion practice12(3), 463-471.

For more information about the program, please visit: http://www.co.guilford.nc.us/publichealth/divisions/?page_id=86

Contact Information

Laura Mrosla

lmrosla@co.guilford.nc.us

(336) 641-6113

 

Wanda Mackey

wmackey@co.guilford.nc.us

(336) 641-4690

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Middle School, Female-Only, School-Based, Manual, Skills Training, Teen Pregnancy, Life Skills

Program information last updated on 5/9/14

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