Research has long demonstrated that youth benefit from close, caring relationships with adults who serve as positive role models (Jekielek, Moore, & Hair, 2002). A five year study sponsored by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health found that children with mentors were more confident and had fewer behavioral problems. Young people showed increased belief in their abilities to succeed in school and felt less anxiety related to peer pressure. Another study conducted by North Carolina State University showed that youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to attend college when they have a mentor.
A study of African American youth conducted by the University of Georgia showed how important mentors were to teens with hardships. Young people who had experienced discrimination, family stressors, and abuse were less likely to break the law or engage in substance abuse if they had a positive mentoring relationship. Mentors provided the relational support to help them believe in their abilities and overcome difficult life challenges.
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).
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.