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Supporting Adolescents with Guidance and Employment (SAGE)

Ringwalt, C. L.; Graham, L. A.; Paschall, M. J.; Flewelling, R. L.; and Browne, D. C.

Am J Prev Med, vol. 12, issue 5, pgs. 31-8 (1996)

Supporting Adolescents with Guidance and Employment (SAGE) is a multifaceted, community-based violence-prevention program. Its target is African-American male adolescents in Durham, North Carolina. Public health professionals, county government officials, and local businessmen collaborated in its development and implementation. The program is based on the paradigm of risk and protective factors, in which various risk factors for youth violence are buffered by modifiable, protective psychosocial processes. SAGE includes an eight-month African-American Rites of Passage program (adult mentoring, African-American culture and history lessons, and manhood and conflict-resolution training), a six-week summer employment component, and a 12-week entrepreneurial experience. Of the 260 youth recruited, 88 were randomly assigned to receive all three program components, 85 were assigned to the summer employment and entrepreneurial components only, and 87 were assigned to a delayed program or control condition. We compared these three groups' psychosocial and behavioral outcomes using survey data and archival records. Program implementation data include attendance records; mentor-youth activity logs pre- and postprogram focus group discussions; and telephone interviews with parents, program staff, and participants. The mean age of the adolescents recruited into the program was 14. Half reported receiving free lunches at school; half were not living with a father; and one quarter reported that their mothers had not completed high school. During the previous year, many had engaged in various violence-related behaviors, including fighting (49%) and carrying a gun (22%). Youths in each program condition were similar with respect to key demographic and behavioral characteristics. The key components of the SAGE program represent increasingly popular but untested approaches. Preliminary results reveal that these youths are involved in violent behavior both as perpetrators and as victims.