CitationKelley, Margaret S. & Lee, Meggan J. (2018). When natural mentors matter: Unraveling the relationship with delinquency. Children and Youth Services Review. vol. 91 pp. 319-328
AbstractResearch in the field of adolescent delinquency has, for some time now, shown a positive correlation between mentoring relationships and increased social capital, such as self-esteem, education, and employment achievements. Youth who have a mentor are also likely to have lower rates of some measures of problem behaviors. These findings, however, are complicated by factors such as type of mentor and characteristics of the mentoring relationship. In this paper, we use life-course theory and the sociological construct of “mattering” derived from social learning theory, as frameworks for disentangling predictors of delinquency and the role of mentors. Given the usually positive influence of mentors in the lives of youths, especially those considered “at-risk,” we explore the role of natural mentors in the delinquency and dangerousness outcomes of adolescents using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data (Add Health), waves I-III (N = 10,120). Results show that natural mentors reduce delinquency over time depending upon characteristics of the mentoring relationship. A key finding is that mattering to others is in fact a vital part of the relationship between natural mentors and delinquency outcomes. The implications of these findings are discussed along with suggestions for future research.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleChildren and Youth Services Review
Author(s)Kelley, Margaret S.
Lee, Meggan J.