Boys and Men of Color Face Serious Health Challenges
Boys and young men of color face increasing health disparities that severely impact multiple levels of their lives.
- Asthma in Latino and African American youth, ages 5-17, runs up to five times the rate of their white peers.1
- For adolescent young men 12 to 19 years old, Mexican-American boys have the highest rates of obesity, 26.7 percent; compared to their white peers at 16.7 percent.2
- Among males aged 15–19 years, the Chlamydia rate among African Americans was 13.1 times the rate among whites; the Gonorrhea rate was 37.4 times that of white young men.3
- These challenges are further complicated by the fact that 1 in 5 young men of color between 15-19 years old do not have a usual source of health care. 4
A continued concern for the health of boys and young men of color is the prevalence of violence in their homes and communities. They are more exposed to forms of violence such as shootings and riots, leading to additional negative impacts.
- Latinos and African American young men are 2 and 3 times more likely to be exposed to such incidents of violence than white young men.5
- African American young men (15-24 years old) have a homicide death rate at least 16 times greater than young white men. The homicide death rate for young Latino men is 5 times greater than young white men.6
- Exposure to violence has serious effects on the long-term mental health of individuals. African American and Latino boys are 2.5 and 4.1 more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder than their white peers.7
Another major area of concern impacting the success and well-being of boys and young men color are the challenges they face in school.
- The dropout rate for Pacific Islander, Latino, and African-American youth are the top three in California, at 21 percent, 23 percent, and 30 percent respectively.
- Only about 55 percent of Latino boys and 54 percent of African American boys graduated from California schools in 2007.8
- African Americans boys and young men have suspension rates 2.4 times higher than their white peers.9
School-Based Health Centers Can Support Boys and Men of Color
A recent assessment completed by the California School-Based Health Alliance emphasizes the role school-based health centers can play in supporting boys and young men of color. The assessment found that school-based health centers are:
- Building strong relationships and using targeted outreach to keep boys and young men of color engaged.
- Screening medical patients for mental health needs, and vice versa, and maximizing opportunities for collaboration between medical providers, mental health providers, educators, other school- or community-based partners and families.
- Incorporating alternative techniques into mental health counseling sessions, i.e. physical participation in therapy.
- Offering male-only groups, youth development programs, and for-credit classes.
- Recruiting and hiring staff who represent the cultures of the diverse population served and can meet gender-specific needs.
- Partnering with individuals and programs that have experience reaching males.
- Fostering safe spaces that allow deep engagement with cultural, historical, and gendered issues (including male identity, fatherhood, and racism).
Resources for Practice
For tools to help you start and run boys and men of color school programs, see Boys and Men of Color Resources.
(1) Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California. (2012). “Claiming the Promise of the Health and Success for Boys and Men of Color”.
(2) Ogden, Gynthia L.; Carroll, Margaret D.; Curtin, Lester R.; Lamb, Molly M.; Flegal, Katherine M. (2010). Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008. Journal of the American Medical Association 303(3): 242-249.
(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/minorities.htm
(4) UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. (2009). California Health Interview Survey, “CHIS 2007 Adult Public Use File”.
(5) Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California. (2012). “Claiming the Promise of the Health and Success for Boys and Men of Color”.
(7) The California Endowment. (2010). “Healthy Communities Matter: The Importance of Place to the Health of Boys of Color”.
(8) Rumberger, Russell, and Susan Rotermund, “Ethnic and Gender Differences in California High School Graduation Rates”, (California Dropout Research Project, U.C. Santa Barbra, March 2009) Statistical Brief #11.
(9) The California Endowment. (2010). “Healthy Communities Matter: The Importance of Place to the Health of Boys of Color”.