Boys and Men of Color

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

Making the Health Home Model Work for Boys and Young Men of Color

This brief examines how the health home model can better serve boys and young men of color. It includes recommendations as well as low and high level efforts that medical practices can implement in order to transform their practices and effectively serve this group.

Addressing the Reproductive Health Needs of Young Men

California once funded a unique teen pregnancy prevention model designed for young men and that reached many young men of color. This report provides a brief overview of this model, highlighting some of its successes and challenges, and includes recommendations at the practice level to better engage and support young men. The report also includes policy recommendations to incentivize quality health care services for young men.

Attracting & Retaining Adolescent Patients

This toolkit can assist SBHCs that serve the entire community in maintaining an adolescent-friendly practice to ensure the best healthcare experience for a young person. The resource walks through each step of an average appointment—from the front desk, to the waiting room, to the medical visit—and provides strategies for creating an adolescent-friendly practice with visibility throughout the school. In addition, it presents policy advocacy opportunities for those interested in advancing adolescent-friendly health services.

Healing the Hurt: Trauma-Informed Approaches to the Health of Boys and Men of Color

This brief provides an overview of the research on trauma, its disproportionate prevalence among boys and men of color, and its impact on a wide variety of short- and long-term outcomes. It also describes what is meant by a trauma-informed approach and suggests specific ways in which organizations can ensure that they can better meet their clients needs through trauma-informed services.

Healthy Communities Matter: The Importance of Place to the Health of Boys and Men of Color

This brief presents multiple health disparities for boys and young men of color and describes how community inequities cause or exacerbates these negative health outcomes. It also provides recommendations for policy makers and offers concrete examples of best-practices from three efforts designed to support boys and young men of color.

Saving Men’s Lives

An earlier report on the status of boys and men of color, this document describes the crisis as a result of access to health coverage and health care. The report highlights several programs from across the country, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, to address the gaps in services for men of color. The programs offer possible models for increasing access to care for boys and young men in California. It also includes policy recommendations on multiple fronts including insurance coverage, community-based services, workforce development, and research and education.

The Health Home: An Approach for Improving Health Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

This brief offers solutions to the health crisis facing boys and young men of color by emphasizing a health home model of support. The authors offer a basic definition of a health home and highlight three examples of health home models, along with specific case studies, that can better serve the health needs of boys and young men of color. The brief also offers policy recommendations that would support successful development of health homes for boys and young men of color.

(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.
(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”.
(6) Ibid.
(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”.