What Makes an Effective Youth Mentor

In order to answer the question of what makes an effective youth mentor; the question of what is mentoring needs a definition. Mentoring is a committed relationship between an adult and a young person focused on developing the strengths and the capabilities of that young person. To children, mentoring means having a trusted friend who cares about them and listens to them, a role model they can look up to, who will help them achieve their dreams.

Therefore, an effective youth mentor is someone who is, first, a caring, responsible adult. That adult should work hard to bond with the person mentored, and be a trusted guide or friend to this person. This person should also serve as a positive role model in the young person’s life. This means that the responsible adult should encourage the youth to set goals and achieve them. The youth mentor should establish a code of behavior that the youth should be expected to follow.

A study commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters found that compared to their un-mentored peers, kids who had mentors were

* 46 percent less likely to start using drugs
* 27 percent less likely to start drinking
* 52 percent less likely to skip school

A Louis Harris Poll found that 73 percent of kids with mentors said their mentors helped them set goals and raised their expectations, and 59 percent said their mentors helped them improve their grades.

A national research consortium, “Child Trends Research Brief” concluded that mentored youth are more likely to have fewer absences from school, better attitudes toward their elders, and improved relationships with their parents.

There are programs available to ensure that every youth in need, has a caring dependable, effective mentor. These programs effectively address the needs of today’s at risk youth, and the issue of how to effectively handle and curb youth violence.

Youth is defined as any person who has not attained twenty-five (25) years of age. An effective youth mentor is someone who is older, wiser, and is capable of making mature, intelligent decisions to teach and guide the youth they are making to make the same intelligent decisions in their own life choices.

Youth need a positive influence in their lives, someone they can look up to and trust. Many of today’s youth are lacking in that positive, adult role model. An effective mentor is an adult who can fill the void and serve as a positive influence in the life of a young person. An effective mentor and role model can make a tremendous difference in the future of today’s youth.