Community Action’s PREP and its Effect on Adolescent Sexual Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors
Lincoln Michelle Budasi ’21, Mangilao, Guam
Majors: Biochemistry; Literary Studies
Community Action, Inc. (CA) is a federal not-for-profit dedicated to creating pathways out of poverty for community members. The Wisconsin Rock and Walworth Counties CA branch has its headquarters in Beloit, WI. One of the many CA programs offered in Beloit is their Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP). PREP is free for low-income and/or minority adolescents, and provides the education and resources necessary to 1) reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and the contraction of STIs/ HIV; 2) build and maintain all types of healthy relationships; 3) understand, develop, and practice financial literacy; and 4) increase self-efficacy.
This study evaluates the effectiveness of PREP on high school sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, while also gathering PREP participants’ sentiments and behaviors towards sexual health, and participant opinions on PREP’s curriculum.
Data was gathered using in-person interviews with randomly selected 17-18 year-old PREP participants enrolled in CA’s Fresh Start program. Participant demographics included a range of races/ethnicities, sexualities, sexual experiences, and family backgrounds.
Results suggest that PREP is effective in teaching participants about sexual health. Although participants agreed that the sexual health curriculum was helpful and important, they found the recognizing abuse curriculum the most helpful. Results suggest the following about PREP participant sentiments and behaviors towards sexual health: participants do not openly discuss sexual health with their families; the stigma surrounding STIs/HIV is prevalent; and high school students are not aware of sexual and mental health community resources. Results also suggest that in-person PREP is more engaging than online PREP, and that summer PREP is even more engaging than school year PREP.
Results on PREP’s effectiveness will help coordinators know which areas in the curriculum need more or less emphasis. Participant opinions on PREP’s curriculum and its inclusivity will provide coordinators with an unbiased evaluation which will lead to overall improvements. Results will also provide insight on PREP participants’ sentiments and behaviors towards sexual health, and how these impact or have been impacted by their relationships with their families/ peers. These insights can help PREP coordinators, sexual health advocates, county representatives, and state legislators understand community sexual health opinions and needs.