CDC Awards $1.79 Million to Evaluate CHS Rape Prevention Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded UNC’s Injury Prevention Center a four-year, $1.79 million grant to study the effectiveness of Children’s Home Society’s rape prevention program, Wise Guys: The Next Level.

Wise Guys: The Next Level was designed by the Children’s Home Society.  Based out of Guilford County, its purpose is to educate young men and boys about relationship violence and sexual assault prevention.  The CDC-funded study will help determine the best practices for expanding similar rape prevention programs throughout North Carolina and around the country.

The study will quantify the effects that Wise Guys: The Next Level has on preventing rape and other types of physical violence, as well as the program’s ancillary effects on preventing dating violence, bullying, high-risk sexual behaviors, and sexual harassment.

“Wise Guys: The Next Level hopes to be a forerunner in sexual violence prevention,” said Brian Maness, President & CEO of Children’s Home Society. “We are particularly excited about this grant given its focus on prevention.  CHS is always looking for innovative opportunities to prevent crisis situations rather than providing support after-the-fact.  The study will also allow us to impact the broader field by evaluating the effectiveness of this prevention program.”

The study will be conducted by faculty members from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Social Work in partnership with Children’s Home Society.

“Sexual violence is a highly prevalent and deeply significant social problem,” said co-investigator for the evaluation, Dr. Kathryn E. (Beth) Moracco with UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Despite the magnitude and severity of sexual violence, little is known about how best to prevent sexual violence perpetration. This critical gap in the sexual violence prevention evidence limits our ability to implement comprehensive programs to prevent and reduce sexual violence perpetration.”

“Working through state health departments, such as Injury and Violence Prevention Branch in the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC has provided financial support for many rape prevention education programs like Wise Guys: The Next Level,” said co-investigator for the evaluation, Dr. Rebecca Macy with UNC’s School of Social Work. “However the effectiveness of most of these community-based rape prevention programs remains largely unknown since there have been very few randomized trial studies like this. This study will add to practice-based evidence on strategies for sexual violence prevention.”

Wise Guys: The Next Level currently has about 200 participants. Instructors are full-time professional staff who have a background in health education and received training in the program.  Instructors go into high schools, colleges, re-entry programs, prison-based programs, and substance abuse programs to deliver the curriculum.

“There are chapters in the curriculum devoted to communication, healthy relationships, dealing with anger, focusing on the effects of alcohol and other substances, decision-making, and sexual decision-making,” said Rick Brown, Director of Program Expansion. “It helps guys understand the way they interpret masculinity and manhood.”