The Importance for Mentorship for Youth

Mentoring is often one component that involves other elements, such as tutoring or life skills training and coaching. The supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees are both immediate and long-term and contribute to a host of benefits for mentors and mentees.

Better school academics and attendance:

Youth with mentors had fewer unexcused absences from class than students without mentors (Tierny, Grossman, Resch, 2000; Herrera, Grossman, Kauh, Feldman, McMaken, & Jucovy, 2007). For example, youth participating in the Across Ages mentoring program showed a gain of more than a week of classes attended, compared with those youth not participating in the program (Jekielek et al., 2002).

Positive attitudes. Teachers of students in the BELONG mentoring program reported that students participating in mentoring were more engaged in the classroom and also seemed to place a higher value on school than students who did not have mentors (Blakely, Menon, & Jones, 1995).

Potential Behavioral Benefits:

Decreased likelihood of initiating illegal drug and alcohol use. A BBBS study showed youth with mentors were less likely to begin using drugs or alcohol during the eighteen-month period of the study than their peers. Specifically, 6.2 percent of youth with mentors initiated drug use compared to 11.4 percent of their peers without mentors, and 19.4 percent initiated alcohol use compared to 26.7 percent. These findings were more substantial for minority youth (Tierny et al., 1995). Findings from a study of the Across Ages mentoring program showed that mentees gained important life skills to help them stay away from drugs (LoSciuto, Rajala, Townsend, & Taylor, 1996).

Decreased violent behavior:

Mentees in the BBBS program were 32 percent less likely to report having hit someone over the past year than the young people without mentors (Tierny et al., 1995). Jekielek et al. (2002) found that four mentoring programs showed reductions of some behaviors related to delinquency and negative behaviors, but did not eliminate all delinquent behaviors.

Other Potential Benefits:

Mentoring has also been linked in studies to social-emotional development benefits, improvements in youth perceptions of parental relationships, and better prospects for moving on to higher education.


Cavell, T., DuBois, D., Karcher, M., Keller, T., & Rhodes, J. (2009). Strengthening mentoring opportunities for at-risk youth. Retrieved from

LoSciuto, L., Rajala, A. K., Townsend, T. N., Taylor, A. S. (1996). An outcome evaluation of across ages: An intergenerational mentoring approach to drug prevention. Journal of Adolescent Research, 11(1), 116-129.

MENTOR. (2009). Elements of effective practice in mentoring. Third Edition. Retrieved from

Tierney, J. P., Grossman, J. B., & Resch, N. L. (1995). Making a difference: An impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Public/Private Venture.

Herrera, C., Grossman, J. B., Kauh, T. J., Feldman, A. F., McMaken, J., & Jucovy L. Z. (2007). Making a difference in schools: The Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring impact study. Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from

Author: Dana Papania, Counseling Practicum Student

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