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shopping; watching television; or just sharing thoughts and ideas about life. Such activities enhance communication skills, develop relationship skills, and support positive decisionmaking.

The BB/BS mentor relationships be- tween mentors and youth are achieved through professional staff and national operating standards that provide a level of uniformity in recruitment, screening, matching, and supervision of volunteers and youth. BB/BS agencies provide orien- tation for volunteers, parents, and youth to assist the individuals in determining if involvement in the program is appropri- ate for them. Opportunities to participate in volunteer education and development programs such as relationship building, communication skills, values clarification, child development, and problem solving are available to local affiliates.

Supervision includes contact with all parties within the first 2 weeks following a match. BB/BS maintains monthly con- tact with the volunteer and parent or child for the first year. In addition, in- person or telephone contact is main- tained quarterly between case managers and both the volunteer and the parent, guardian, and/or child for the duration of the match. Although its standards are reinforced through national training, na- tional and regional conferences, and peri- odic agency evaluations, BB/BS is not monolithic. Individual agencies adhere to national guidelines, but they customize their programs to fit the circumstances in their area.

At the same time that Congress was considering Federal support for juvenile mentoring programs, P/PV was beginning a carefully designed evaluation of BB/BS mentoring programs (Tierney and Grossman, 1995). OJJDP followed the progress of this 18-month experimental evaluation closely, believing that the re- sults would confirm the generally ac- cepted proposition that mentoring ben- efits at-risk youth and would support further national expansion of this activity.

P/PV chose eight local BB/BS agencies for the study, using two criteria: large caseload (to ensure an adequate number of youth for the research sample) and geographic diversity. The sites selected

were in Columbus, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Roches- ter, New York; San Antonio, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas.

The young people in the study were between 10 and 16 years old (with 93 per- cent between 10 and 14). Slightly more than 60 percent were boys, and more than 50 percent were minority group members (of those, about 70 percent were African American). Almost all lived with one par- ent (usually the mother), the rest with a guardian or relatives. Many were from low-income households, and a significant number came from households with a his- tory of either family violence or sub- stance abuse. For the study, youth were randomly assigned to be immediately eli- gible for a mentor or put on a waiting list.1

The goal of the research was to deter- mine whether a one-to-one mentoring experience made a tangible difference in the lives of these young people. The re- searchers considered six broad areas that mentoring might affect: antisocial activi- ties, academic performance, attitudes and behaviors, relationships with family, rela-

tionships with friends, self-concept, and social and cultural enrichment. The find- ings presented below were based on self- reported data obtained from baseline and followup interviews or from forms com- pleted by agency staff.

The overall findings, summarized in the table, are positive. The most notewor- thy results are these:

Mentored youth were 46 percent less likely than controls to initiate drug use during the study period. An even stron- ger effect was found for minority Little Brothers and Little Sisters, who were 70 percent less likely to initiate drug use than similar minority youth.

Mentored youth were 27 percent less likely than were controls to initiate al- cohol use during the study period, and minority Little Sisters were only about one-half as likely to initiate alcohol use.

Mentored youth were almost one-third less likely than were controls to hit someone.

Mentored youth skipped half as many days of school as control youth, felt more competent about doing


Antisocial Activities Initiating Drug Use Initiating Alcohol Use Number of Times Hit Someone


  • 45.8%

  • 27.4%

  • 31.7%

Academic Outcomes Grades Scholastic Competence Skipped Class Skipped Day of School

Family Relationships Summary Measure of Quality of the Relationship

Trust Lying to Parent

Peer Relationships Emotional Support


    • 4.3


  • 36.7%

  • 52.2%

    • 2.1


    • 2.7


  • 36.6%


Note: All impacts in this table are statistically significant at least at a 90 percent level of confidence.

1 For ease of presentation, we will refer to the group that was immediately eligible for a mentor as

“mentored youth” or “Little Brothers and Little Sisters,” even though this group includes some youth (22 percent) who were never matched. The wait-listed youth are called the “control” youth.


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