Monday, 15 April 2013

Mentoring to help Teens avoid drugs, alcohol and negative behaviour

All of us can look back on our teenage years and understand the turbulence and difficulty involved in going through adolescence and puberty. A period often fraught with physical problems, as well as the sense of finding yourself amidst pressure to perform and conform. It is no surprise teens are often stereotyped as angsty and
conflicted; the pressures of performance in a modern society are only growing by the year. Modern teenagers now have to fit in socially, deal with physical changes in their body and how to understand them, as well as perform academically. Problems can of course arise through struggles in dealing with these pressures.

Two organizations, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and also
the BBBSC (Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada), have recently released the results of
an enormous mentoring study. Covering a five year window and involving nearly
a thousand children and teenagers, this incredible study shed light on the massive
benefits a “mentor” can have for a teenager as they develop and grow in age. One
incredible straight statistic that has arisen from the study is that girls are a staggering
four times less likely to bully, fight or express anger or lying tendencies when they
had an assigned mentor, or “big sister” in the studies terms.

The benefits extend beyond this, however. Girls were shown to be two and a half
times more likely to show confidence in their ability and successes within school.
Boys with a mentor also showed to be two times less likely to become involved in
patterns of bullying, cheating or expression of anger in social settings. Dr Dewit
is quoted as saying "We showed that the positive findings held regardless of the
children's age, personal history, family circumstances or cultural identity. Over time, Big
Brothers Big Sisters agencies will be able to counsel mentors on how best to engage
with their 'Little' and will make it easier to identify the children most likely to benefit from
having a mentor."

This possibility of assigning children and young teens individual mentors is an incredibly
interesting topic. With such benefits in sight, it is clear that the mentor acts as a beacon
and focus point in a time of upheaval and transformation for the teenager. With the ability
to instill positive and compassionate morals at a time where many young people feel lost,
a mentor could make an enormous difference within the space of a generation if applied
on a countrywide level.

The presence of a mentor can also undoubtedly be a massively powerful influence
against drugs and alcohol. With a personal bond in the mentor dynamic, it would
be very easy to help steer a teen away from destructive substances and habits, or at
least increase the possibility of picking up on the signs of such behaviour and seeking
further help. This possibility of an early warning can help those who are already
taking the path of drugs and addiction.

For more information on drug abuse please visit the Life Works Community Website.