The WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center has partnered with the app-creator Efficacy and with the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) to explore how new app-based technology can be used to promote sexual health and reduce unplanned teen pregnancies among juvenile offenders. Adolescent sexual health represents an important public health challenge, with implications beyond the teen years. Teen parents and their children experience a unique set of academic, health, and economic challenges. These challenges may be compounded for teen parents in the juvenile justice system. Sexual health education is an important strategy for reducing teen pregnancy and improving sexual health by giving young people the opportunity to make informed decisions.
This study involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of Healthy U, a tablet-based sexual health education app designed for young males in a juvenile justice environment. Designed with input from young men in OYA care, Healthy U is an accessible, cost-effective method for providing sexual health education to youth in juvenile facilities.
As part of this evaluation, WestEd is using survey data from young male offenders in five juvenile facilities to compare changes in the sexual knowledge, attitudes, and practices of youth who completed Healthy U with those of youth who did not. The evaluation also follows participants after their release from OYA facilities. Focus group data indicate that Healthy U is being well-received so far, and preliminary results of the evaluation are promising. Final results are pending the completion of year five of the study.