Connecting Youth: the Role of Mentoring Approach

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Journal of Youth and Adolescence

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While formal youth mentoring can positively influence youth connectedness, little research has studied the specific approaches mentors engage in that support mentee social development. This study examines how mentors' specific approaches are uniquely associated with youth connection outcomes in formal community-based mentoring. Participants were 766 youth, ranging in age from 11 to 14 (M = 12.29), 56.7% female, and racially/ethnically diverse (41.0% Black/African American, 21.4% Hispanic/Latinx, 20.0% White, 10.2% Multiracial/Multiethnic, 5.9% Native American, 1.2% other race, and 0.4% Asian/Pacific Islander). Person-centered analyses revealed three mentoring profiles which were differentially associated with youth outcomes: "Status Quo Mentors," who reported low-to-moderate levels of closeness within the mentor-mentee dyad, low levels of connecting their mentees with programs and people in their community, and low levels of mediating for their mentees; "Close Connectors," who reported moderate-to-high levels of closeness, moderate-to-high levels of connecting, and low levels of mediating; and "Connector-Mediators," who reported moderate levels of closeness, connecting, and mediating. Youth mentored by "Close Connectors" demonstrated the greatest benefit, with significant improvements in parent-child relationship quality, extracurricular activity involvement, and help-seeking. Results suggest that community-based mentoring programs that emphasize connecting youth within their communities may be more effective in enhancing youth support networks.


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