Wise Guys: Making teen men accountable for teen pregnancy

Though teen parents are less likely to finish high school, less likely to be well employed and more likely to cause that cycle to be repeated in their children, most of the cultural focus is on young women. What about teen men?

Children’s Home Society is in North Carolina, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, and New York and is expanding the Wise Guys program, which targets teen males, a segment often overlooked when it comes to addressing teen pregnancy. 

“By teaching pregnancy prevention and positive choices, we equip these young men to break detrimental cycles and become supportive, loving boyfriends, husbands, and fathers in the future,” said Rick Brown, Youth Education Program Director at Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.

Charlotte’s Myers Park High School, the largest in North Carolina with over 2,800 students, incorporates the Wise Guys curriculum during health class. “The class is very upbeat and interactive,” said 18-year-old graduating senior Will Miller. “While abstinence is taught as the best way, the program teaches everything you need to know. If you choose different options, they want you to be safe. We also engaged in conversations about a wide range of topics, like avoiding the male stereotype, the rape culture, consent, partying, promiscuity, morals, and values.

“One of the biggest things I got out of Wise Guys is that we see ourselves, young men, in a certain way that isn’t viable to everybody,” said Miller. “What we think a man should be, perhaps shaped by the movie culture or advertising, is not necessarily the best thing.”

Miller’s teacher, Jeff Rothberg, Educator for Children’s Home Society, teaches the Wise Guys program at Myers Park High School, East Mecklenburg High School, community centers in the Charlotte area, and works with youth offenders in Mecklenburg County Jail North.