Adult support and guidance are the cornerstones of healthy youth development. When youth are exposed to a disorganized or dysfunctional lifestyle, they're at risk for justice involvement and destructive behavior.
To support youth who are without a caring adult in their lives, research has shown that mentoring is an effective strategy. Mentoring can improve self-esteem, academic achievement, and peer relationships while reducing drug use, aggression, depressive symptoms, and delinquent acts.
One study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based Mentoring Program showed that students who met regularly with their mentors were 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class.
OJJDP, in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, launched the National Mentoring Resource Center in January 2015. This online resource provides mentoring tools and information, program and training materials, and technical assistance to help local programs and practitioners improve the quality and effectiveness of their mentoring efforts.
The typical mentoring program recruits, screens, and trains adult volunteers before matching each volunteer with youth referred to the program. The staff then provides support as the adult and youth spend one-to-one time together on a regular basis in community settings.
A study of mentoring programs specific to juvenile treatment drug courts found that program success is strongly linked to the application of theory-driven and evidence-based practices. Researchers found the best results for mentor programs are achieved by:
- Implementing a formal structure.
- Developing clear expectations.
- Providing consistent and ongoing support for mentors, mentees, and family members.
- Implementing organizational self-monitoring practices, such as staff evaluation and training.
Celebrated every year in January, National Mentoring Month is a nationwide campaign that aims to recruit mentors and focus national attention on the importance of those working together to ensure positive outcomes for youth.
Visit the following pages for additional mentoring information and resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: