Cornell University researchers and Planned Parenthood are collaborating on a new program to help target “masculinity” in boys as young as 12.
Funded by a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the experimental project is led by Cornell University researcher Janis Whitlock, and hopes to explore if “early intervention” can help reduce toxic and unhealthy masculinity in boys.
The program enrolls boys ages 12-14 in small groups of 8-10 kids during an after-school program where the boys meet with a “male role model to focus on activities and discussions that define that it means to be a ‘real man.’”
PJ Media reached out to Whitlock to ask if the program is mandatory for certain boys, as well as for more information on the project, but she declined to comment. Instead, she told PJ Media to contact the NYS Health Department, which did not respond to media inquiries.
According to a Cornell University press release, Whitlock aims to enroll at least 700 boys for her research, and throughout the program, the boys will take multiple surveys to assess their views towards women and healthy relationships.
“This is a perfect time to be giving [boys] a variety of [masculinity] models to choose from, because boys in particular face fairly narrow models of what it means to be a man,” said Whitlock.
Planned Parenthood is also helping with the research. According to a job advertisement posted last week, Planned Parenthood of Buffalo, N.Y. seeks to hire a Data Collection Coordinator to schedule and administer “data collection sessions” for boys in the program.
Notably, it appears as if the project is targeting boys from lower-income and racial minority households, but nobody involved with the research would respond to a request for comment on this.
According to the job description, Planned Parenthood seeks a data collection expert with “experience working with diverse racial and socio-economic populations, including African Americans, Hispanics or other racial and ethnic groups.”
The data collector will also be stationed in Buffalo, N.Y. According to the Buffalo City School District, only about 20 percent of students in district are white. The rest of students are black or African-American (47.2 percent) and Hispanic or Latino (19.1 percent).
Neither Cornell University researcher Janis Whitlock — nor her referral at the NYS Health Department who was supposed to take questions about the project — offered to clarify if the boys enrolled at elite or predominately white middle schools would be involved.
Upon the conclusion of the project, researchers hope to find evidence that their program is effective, and if so, expand the program to boys in other cities.
“We’re hoping to find that the boys in the intervention groups show improved attitudes and behaviors compared to the boys in the control groups. We’re very excited,” another Cornell researcher said in the press release.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.