Enhancing the Protective Capacity of Mentoring Relationships

Betsy Matthews, Eastern Kentucky University

Recent studies have offered evidence of mentoring's potential for preventing crime and other antisocial behaviors. By providing youth with a one-on-one relationship with a supportive adult, mentoring programs can buffer the effects of high risk environments and help youth avoid involvement in delinquency. They are, perhaps, the best example of programs that are designed to develop a social bond and bolster a youth's stake in conformity. The promise of mentoring, however, is being impeded by an insufficient number of mentors and a high rate of attrituion in mentoring relationships. This paper reports on research that explored ways to formulate effective mentoring relationships that are capable of serving a protective function for youth and reduce their likelihood of delinquency. It identifies mentor, youth, and organizational factors that were found to contribute to the development of a strong social bond, and examines the relationship between the strength of the social bond and youths' self-reported delinquency.

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Updated 05/20/2006