Youth mentoring as a form of support for children and young people at risk

Insights from research and practice

Authored by: Caroline McGregor , Mary Lynch , Bernadine Brady

The Routledge Handbook of Global Child Welfare

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138942752
eBook ISBN: 9781315672960
Adobe ISBN: 9781317374749


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Formal mentoring programmes, which facilitate the development of a friendship or ‘match’ between and older volunteer and a young person, have been shown to be an effective way of supporting troubled youth, helping them sustain positive mental health, cope with stress and lead successful lives through adolescence and into adulthood (Rhodes, 2002; DuBois et al., 2011). Because youth mentoring is generally framed as a preventative intervention, it is often not considered as a viable option by social workers working with young people with higher levels of need. On the one hand, it can be argued that young people with challenging personal lives would benefit from the development of a positive relationship with a non-parental adult but on the other hand, the needs of the young person may be too complex for a volunteer to take on. Drawing on insights from research and practice, this chapter explores the issues relating to the suitability or appropriateness of youth mentoring as an intervention for young people with higher levels of need, with a view to informing practitioners who work with children with high levels of need or risk in their lives on how best to utilize mentoring as a form of social support.

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