Girls Incorporated of Memphis is a local affiliate of the national Girls Inc. organization
that provides programming that encourages girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Girls
Inc. engages girls ages 6-18 through experiences that both discourage negative influences
and encourage confidence, leadership, and self-sufficiency.
The Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis (CROW) has conducted
the evaluation of local Girls Inc. programming since 2010. This report continues that
practice with the results from an evaluation conducted from Fall 2012 through Spring
2013. The report focuses on changes in the mental health, well-being, and behaviors
of participants in Girls Inc. Parent intake forms (completed by parents upon enrollment
of their daughters) and self-administered surveys (completed by evaluation participants)
conducted in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 serve as the basis of the data featured in
this report, which is similar in scope to the report provided for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012
Based on the goals of Girls Inc. programming, this report is organized around three
key program outcomes:
1. Prevent teen pregnancy among Girls Inc. participants
2. Decrease involvement in drugs, tobacco, and alcohol use
3. Improve academic outcomes for program participants.
Preventing Teen Pregnancy.
About 15% of girls’ parents reported that they never talked about sex with their daughter;
thus, a focus on sexuality and contraception is clearly needed for a sizeable portion
of program participants. One of the core components of Girls Inc. programming is the
Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy curriculum which covers these issues. Survey findings
reveal that only 3-5% of girls reported having had sexual intercourse, which is substantially
lower than the overall sample of middle and high school students at Memphis City Schools
(almost 50%). Of the girls who were sexually active, most reported using condoms.
Drug, Tobacco, and Alcohol.
Rates of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol use among program participants were less than
half the use rates of comparison samples of MCS students overall. These rates did
not change significantly from the beginning of the year until the end.
Improving academic outcomes is a major focus of Girls Inc. A majority of girls report
high levels of involvement in school and school related activities. Most Girls Inc.
participants typically put effort into their homework assignments, turned them in
on time, and completed in-class assignments. Additionally, most girls reported that
they thought they could prepare a good resume, find information about college, and
talk to someone in their field of interest.
Findings from evaluation research indicate that many of the girls who participated
in Girls Inc. programming live in environments where they were exposed to many kinds
of stressors, including physical violence. Research has demonstrated that these types
of contextual factors are complex and can be difficult to overcome (Child Trends Data
Bank, 2013). As such, this report also details issues related to delinquency, exposure
to violence and victimization, and mental health indicators.
Delinquency, Exposure to Violence, and Victimization.
Survey findings highlight the difficult environments in which participants live. Most
report they had seen the police arrest someone, heard gunshots, seen a grown-up hit
a kid, and/or seen someone get beat up. Smaller portions report they had been cut
or stabbed, jumped, or badly hurt by someone else. Some of the girls reported participating
in delinquent activities themselves, though at much lower rates than they experienced
violence – with about 19% reporting deliberately damaging property, getting into a
fight with a group, or lying to parents. Only a few reported using a weapon (2%) or
Recent research has emphasized the prevalence and impacts of mental health problems
among low income youth, particularly related to outcomes of teen pregnancy, involvement
in drugs and alcohol and academic outcomes (McLeod et al 2012; Turner et al 2000).
Compared to community samples, Girls Inc. participants are more engaged in school
and have a better body image, however, findings indicate that they experience slightly
higher levels of anxiety and depression, and report slightly lower ability to cope
Girls Inc. programming emphasizes skills for girls to become strong, smart, and bold.
Much of the programming addresses issues of sexual activity and confident leadership,
but the intent is to help girls successfully manage their lives overall – relationships,
home, school, and the world. Many of these girls face significant obstacles in their
lives, and Girls Inc. is providing programming in key areas where girls need extra