A mentor is someone who helps a younger person. A mentor is a trusted friend, a helper or a teacher. We all know what is meant by an at-risk child – it is a young person who is in danger of harm or self-harm and who needs help and guidance.
Studies show that an at-risk child who has a strong bond with a trusted and helpful mentor is far less likely to get into trouble and far more likely to do well in their school work.
This brings us to the obvious conclusion. Why doesn’t every at-risk child have a mentor? The answer is that there just aren’t enough mentors to go around. Sadly there are millions of young people in trouble or in a position where harm could befall them. Broken homes, drugs, alcohol and other social ills prey on young people. If their parents are not around or they are troubled, who is going to listen to the kids? Who will give sound advice and is a shelter in the time of a storm?
Mentoring programs exist and much good work is being done. The downside and even the tragic result is that much more needs to be done and many young people can be rescued from a life of crime and waste if only they could develop a trusting and healthy relationship with a mentor.
We hear a lot about sporting stars being role models. A role model is an adult who achieves success and lives a life where others benefit from their success. Every child needs their parents but sometimes a mentor who is a role model can be a real back-up for the parents. A mentor is never going to replace a parent but they can guide a young person in making good choices.
One of the best things a mentor can do is listen. Just being there and being a shoulder to cry on or a willing listener to the joys and sorrows of young person can be a real help to any child.
Mentoring is mighty important and good mentoring is worth its weight in gold.
A child doesn’t need to be at risk to have a mentor. Every child will benefit from a friendly adult who can share time with the younger person. But every at-risk child most certainly does need a mentor. In fact having a mentor could be the reason the at-risk youth doesn’t fall through the safety net and become another tragic statistic.
One of the many benefits of the internet is that you can now mentor a child online. There are organizations which deal specifically with this activity. References and a background check are required for all mentors and it enables willing adults to participate who otherwise might have a busy schedule.
Finally there is also support for the mentors. Some mentors may need a mentor themselves from time to time. So if you wish to get involved in helping at-risk young people, becoming a mentor is a brilliant way to help the kids and make yourself feel good helping others.
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