If I were Jack can be used in same-sex and mixed-sex classrooms by both young men and young women aged 14 and older. It can be delivered by teachers and RSE facilitators.
What is If I Were Jack?
If I Were Jack is an educational resource intended for use in the classroom which focuses on young men and unintended pregnancy. It includes an interactive video drama (IVD) which tells the story of Jack, who has just found out that his girlfriend is unexpectedly pregnant. The young person watches the drama unfold and is periodically asked to put themselves in Jack’s shoes. They are encouraged to consider how they would feel if they were Jack (or his girlfriend Emma) in this situation. They are also asked to reflect on and discuss the options that might be available to them in such a situation and the potential consequences of their choices in relation to this.
While the resource encourages discussion of the options that may be open to a young person if they experience an unintended pregnancy (i.e. keeping the baby, adoption and abortion) there is no suggestion that any of these options is optimal. Rather, the resource directs the young person to consider all of the options and their consequences, thereby encouraging reflection on the decisions a young person might have to face in that situation. The resource also provides opportunities for the teacher to identify the school’s position on such issues and the resource materials facilitate young people to discuss the issue with their parents or guardians.
The resource includes a computer-based IVD, a training package for teacher trainers, educational materials to assist teachers in facilitating classroom discussions around the issues raised in the IVD, and web-based educational materials for parents.
The resource has been designed for use within the relationship and sexuality education curricula (RSE) of post-primary schools in Northern Ireland and Ireland, although it also has potential for use internationally and outside of classroom settings.
If I Were a Jack is designed to help young people avoid an unintended pregnancy during their teenage years. It especially aims to help young men become aware of their responsibilities in avoiding an unintended pregnancy during adolescence.
The resource invites both male and female users to put themselves in Jack’s shoes encouraging them to reflect on the consequences of such a situation in their own lives. The key educational aims of the resource are to provide young men and women with:
- Increased awareness of the potential negative consequences of unintended pregnancy and available support services;
- Increased awareness of personal attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to unintended pregnancy;
- Improved self-efficacy in communicating about unintended pregnancy; and
- Increased awareness of gender norms associated with unintended pregnancy.
If I were Jack can be used in same-sex and mixed-sex classrooms by both young men and young women aged 14 or older. It can be delivered by teachers or RSE facilitators.
While the resource is intended to be used in classroom settings there is also potential for its use with individual young people or in other group settings such as youth groups or residential settings.
The resource has been developed by a research team at Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with key health and education partners in Northern Ireland and Ireland which include the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, the Council for Curriculum Education and Assessment Northern Ireland, the Health Services Executive Crisis Pregnancy Programme Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills Ireland. Teachers, parents and young people were also consulted as part of the development process.
Development of the resource is now complete and we are currently conducting evaluation research. The resource will be freely available online following UK-wide evaluation.
How are Parents Involved?
Pupils are asked to involve their parents or guardians in a homework activity called 'The If I Were Jack Survey'. They are encouraged to ask their parents to watch an excerpt from the If I Were Jack film and answer a number of questions such as 'If you were Jack’s parent, what would you say to him?' Initially, parents were also asked to attend a teacher-delivered parent/guardian’s discussion session but findings from the Jack Feasibility Trial, which ended in April 2016, suggested the need to refine the parental component of the intervention.
The Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland therefore funded the research team to replace the previous teacher-delivered parents’ information and discussion session with a series of animated videos targeted at parents. These will relay the importance of parent/child communication about relationships and sexuality and provide information on how parents might engage with their children on these issues. Links to these videos will be sent to parents from the school via text/email as part of a future randomised controlled trial, but they will eventually be freely available online.
Parents Advisory Group
The ‘If I Were Jack’ Parents' Advisory Group was set up in August 2016 in order to advise on the production of 'If I Were Jack' animations for parents. The Advisory Group consisted of parents of teenagers and met three times, in August, September and October 2016.