Effects of Mentoring on At-Risk Youth 

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Chapter Two reviews the literature in relation to the social position of young people and the circumstances that have contributed to the creation of categories of young people defined as being at-risk. In addition, the chapter reviews a range of studies that have addressed mentoring programs in general and programs for at-risk youth in particular. The chapter outlines different approaches to the evaluation of mentoring programs, develops key concepts essential to adequate evaluation, and points to emerging operational definitions for the purpose of the study presented here.

 Characteristics of Youth and Causes of Risk

Many of today’s youth face conflicts that challenge their nascent coping abilities. Social changes, including globalization, changing demographic patterns, and transformations in family organization have led to problems of social integration and fueled concerns about violence,academic failure, single parent households, an increase in the number of children in day care, and lack of self-esteem amongst young people. Peer pressure may also contribute to feelings of inferiority amongst this age cohort.Youth may seek ways to express themselves and unfortunately, this search for self–expression has often led to deviant practices such as drug addiction, joining gangs, or engaging in pre-marital sex. Stephen (1997) wrote that « growing numbers of children are being neglected,abused, and ignored. Without change, the dark specter of generational warfare could become all too real » (p. 1).Stephen (1997) further noted that child-care advocates report that as many as 15% of 16-19 year-olds are at risk of never reaching their potential and simply becoming »lost » in society. Children may be at-risk at any age of not becoming self-supporting adults, headed for a life in institutions for delinquency, crime, mental illness, addiction, and dependency.Another significant change is the number of North American children who are living with only one of their parents. According to Amato (2005), there are multiple reasons for this increase in single-parent headed homes,and the absence of one of the parental figures may put children at-risk. These reasons include premarital childbearing, separation, and divorce. Along with the increase in prevalence, there has been an increase in the general acceptance of such a shift in the concept of the American family. Page and Stevens (2005) further pointed out that in a span of 30 years the United States has seen a jump from one out of every ten families run by a single parent to the current statistic of three out of every ten.These societal changes have led to American children living in increasingly varied and complex arrangements (Walsh,2003). Moreover, divorce has a strong long-term effect on children and youth (Mechoulan, 2006).
One of the main causes of at-risk behavior is poverty; indeed, there is a position held by policy makers that a vicious cycle exists between at-risk behavior and poverty (Garris, 1998). Poverty has a reputation of mutating family structures. The negative effects of poverty lead youths to engage in practices and activities – such as drug abuse and pre-marital sex (that results in pregnancy and abortion) -in order to forget their conditions in life (Booth &Crouter, 2001).The increase in children living in poverty in urban areas leads many social scientists to link poverty to atrisk behavior as most delinquent youths have come from an urban environment. Barth, Wildfire, and Green (2006) observed that young children are the most likely cohorts to be living in poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (2006), 29 million children in the United States are growing up in homes that can be classified as living in low-income families, and an additional 13.5 million live in families that are officially impoverished according to federal guidelines that define poverty. In all, then, this accounts for 58% of American children, a shocking majority of the childhood population (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2006).Poverty and other factors can result in poor selfesteem (Blanchard, Gurka, & Blackman, 2006). However, even in families with two co-present parents there can be problems associated with low self-esteem, school phobia,and experimentation with drugs and alcohol. It is also important to acknowledge that family structures can change quickly, thus exerting shifting influences that dramatically impact children’s behavior (Aughinbaugh,Pierret, & Rothstein, 2005). Moreover, there are some cases where the reasons for being considered at-risk include intimidation from other youths or feelings of inferiority because of social and psychological factors (Markstrom, Li,Blackshire, & Wilfong, 2005). At times, hunger, spiritual pain, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence in their future can easily lead such youth to gang life (Thornberry et al., 2003). Hundreds of youth have no other adults besides their parents or primary caregivers or place to turn to for support.

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Chapter One: An Overview of Young People and Mentoring Programs
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background to the Study 
1.3 Statement of the Problem 
1.4 Site of the Study 
1.5 Objectives of the Study 
1.6 Research Hypotheses 
1.7 Significance of the Study 
1.8 Conclusion
Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction 
2.2 Characteristics of Youth and Causes of Risk 
2.3 Characteristics of At-Risk Youth 
2.3.1 School Issues and Incarceration
2.3.2 Incarcerated Youth and Gang Membership
2.3.3 Demographic Characteristics and Skills Gender and Age
2.4 Positive Reinforcement
2.4.1 Positive Reinforcement and Parents
2.5 Community Level Initiatives 
2.5.1 Mentoring
2.5.2 Non-Violent Conflict Resolution
2.5.3 Strength-based Approaches
2.5.4 Life-Skills Training
2.5.5 Youth Initiative
2.6 Reasons Why Some Programs Fail 
2.6.1 Absence of Strategy
2.6.2 Evidence-based Practice
2.6.3 Strategic Plans
2.7 Mentoring
2.7.1 Traditional Mentoring
2.7.2 Planned Mentoring
2.8 Evaluating the Effectiveness of Mentoring Programs 
2.9 Rationale for Evaluating Mentoring Programs 
2.10 Recruitment 
2.11 Mentoring Curriculum 
2.12 Matching Mentors/Mentees 
2.13 Purpose of Mentoring Programs 
2.14 Different Types of Mentoring Programs
2.14.1 Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America
2.14.2 Help One Student to Succeed
2.14.3 One Hundred Black Men, Inc.
2.14.4 The National One-to-One Mentoring Partnership
2.15 Mentor and Mentee Relationships: Historical Context 
2.16 Effects of Mentoring on At-Risk Youth 
2.17 Evaluating Program Effectiveness 
2.18 Fresh Start 
2.19 Conclusion 
Chapter Three: Methodology
3.1. Evaluating Efficacy in Mentoring Programs 
3.2. Aims of the Study 
3.3. Challenges for Mentoring Program Evaluation 
3.4 Methodological Approach for Quantitative Research 
3.5 Researcher’s Key Assumptions 
3.6 Unit of Analysis, Locating and Selecting Research Participants 
3.7 Data Collection 
3.8 Capturing, Storing, Retrieving and Safeguarding Data 
3.9 Data Analysis 
3.10 Data Presentation 
3.11 Ethical Considerations
Chapter Four: Analysis
4.1 Introduction 
4.2 Pre-intervention Child Behavior Checklist Results
4.2.1 Youth
4.2.2 Parents
4.2.3 Teachers
4.3 Post-intervention Results
4.3.1 Youth
4.3.2 Parents
4.3.3 Teachers
4.4 Comparison of Pre- and Post-Intervention Results:
Analysis and Discussion 
4.4.1 Youth
4.4.2 Parents
4.4.3 Teachers
4.5 Coefficient of Variation Analysis 
4.6 Summary and Conclusion 
Chapter Five: Discussion and Recommendations
5.1 Introduction 
5.2 Discussion of the Results 
5.3 Recommendations for Future Research 
5.3.1 Longitudinal Study of Mentoring Programs and Their Outcomes
5.3.2 Program Satisfaction and Key Variables Producing Change
5.3.3 Determine the Influence of the Variable of Time on Short-and Long-Term Measures of Successful Outcomes
5.4 Suggestions for Methodological Constructs and Considerations
5.4.1 Consider the Confounding Variable of the Halo Effect
5.4.2 Corroborate Self-Report Data Sets with Other Types of Data
5.4.3 Incorporate Baseline, Periodic, and PostIntervention Evaluations and Outcome Measures
5.5 Recommendations for Mentoring Programs 
5.5.1 Keep Abreast of Research Literature
5.5.2 Maintain Thorough Records and Engage in Your Own Research
5.6 Conclusion 

A Fresh Start: an Evaluation of the Impact of Mentoring Programs on Young People

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