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Journal of Community Psychology

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Social work with youth, Youth -- Mental health services, Young adults -- Mental health services, Mentoring


This study sought to examine how social class bias may be enacted by mentors and mentoring program staff within community-based youth mentoring relationships and how these biases may influence the mentoring relationship. A narrative thematic analysis was conducted with interviews from mentors, mentees' parents/caregivers, and mentoring program staff representing 36 matches participating in a larger, prospective, mixed-methods study examining factors associated with early match closures. Findings indicate that although some mentors were able to partner with the youth and family to effectively navigate challenges related to the family's economic circumstances, other mentors and some mentoring program staff held deficit views of the youth and their family that appeared to be at least partially rooted in negative social class-based assumptions about attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, we observed tendencies on the part of some mentors and program staff toward (a) deficit-based views of families and youth, (b) individual-level attributions for the family's economic circumstances and blaming of caregivers, and (c) perceiving mentors as being underappreciated by the youth's caregiver. These deficit perspectives contributed to the minimization of parent/caregiver voice in the mentoring process and negative interpretations of parent/caregiver and, in some cases, youth attitudes and behaviors.


This is the author’s version of a work. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Community Psychology, jcop.22737.



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