Youth Mentoring

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"Young people will find a way to meet their needs… even if this means moving in directions that are not approved of by family and/or community. Whether or how young people meet their needs depends in large part on the strength and direction of influences and opportunities in their lives". -Youth Development Institute

Youth mentoring is one of the most under utilized tools in America for the successful development of intelligent and prosperous young men and women. Young people today need multi-dimensional care in order to successfully mature into well rounded individuals. Unfortunately, a majority of youth today are not receiving the attention they need in order to reach their full potential (Boyle 1). Without proper guidance, these youth are participating in high levels of at risk behaviors, such as substance abuse and violence. When faced with difficult situations, it is easy for a young person to make poor choices. A youth mentor provides an extra outlet for these adolescents when a parent, sibling, or friend is not available, or even able to make the best choices for the adolescent. Youth mentoring is needed now more than ever.

The multi-faceted needs of an adolescent are almost more complex than that of an adult. At such a young age teenagers and pre-teens are trying to understand right from wrong, learning how to take care of themselves, discovering who they are and establishing values. It is necessary for youth to have a strong and stable support system while growing up. Traditionally, parents are expected to fill this role. Today, however, that is not always the case.

The divorce rate in the United States is soaring. Accordingly, as the divorce rate increases, so does the number of single parents. When marriages end, and divorce papers are signed, changes have to be made. One larger household is replaced by two smaller households. Instead of one set of bills, there are two. Visitation rights replace family time. Countless adjustments are inevitable. This type of situation brings about confusion, disappointment, and despair in the lives of young people.

With such a high percentage of teen pregnancies, consequently there is an elevated number of young mothers. When a mother is at a young age when she bears a child, it is exceedingly complicated to appropriately take care of the child while at the same time caring for herself. Teenage moms generally want to finish high school or attend college, spend time hanging out with friends, or work in order to provide for themselves and their babies. Teenage mothers who do not fully understand the responsibility of taking care of a baby are oftentimes shocked when they find they can no longer finish school or even work a sufficient amount of hours to pay the bills. Divorce rate is escalating. Teenage mothers are abundant. Single and uninformed mothers and fathers cannot properly take on a job, house and car payments, grocery shopping, parent teacher association, doctors appointments, after-school activities, carpool, and packed lunches, and adequately care for three kids. It is next to impossible. Thirty percent of children in American live in a household with only one parent (Young Life 1). Several parents are left with their hands too full to adequately care for their own children on all levels. Total wellness on all levels encompasses physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental well being. Optimal physical health requires eating well, exercising, avoiding harmful habits, making responsible decisions about sex, learning about and recognizing the symptoms of disease, getting regular medical check-ups, and taking steps to prevent injuries. Trust, self-esteem, optimism, self-acceptance, self-control, self-confidence, satisfying relationships, and an ability to share feelings are just some of the qualities and aspects of emotional wellness. The hallmarks of intellectual health include an openness to new ideas,...
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