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Gaining new insights into mentoring programs for adolescent girls
Date:4/2/2009

(Boston) -- A study of a Big Brothers Big Sisters of America formal mentoring program, which matched adolescent girls with women mentors, revealed that strong emotional support and improvement in girls psychosocial functioning from these relationships was a dominant theme coupled with the development of new skills and confidence through collaborations.

Unlike previous mentoring studies, this one explicitly examined the relational processes in adolescent girls' relationship with female adult mentors from the perspective of the participants themselves. Each adolescent and mentor pair was extensively interviewed separately and then together. Their recorded comments were analyzed and revealed that girls benefit from both skill development and gain vital emotional support.

Those findings appear in the Journal of Primary Prevention in a study led by Renee Spencer, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Social Work and Belle Liang, an associate professor at Boston College that was published last month.

"In the absence of much research on gender in mentoring, many have assumed that boys are mostly interested in doing activities with male mentors, which, by nature, may be more focused on skill building and problem solving whereas girls are more interested in developing emotionally-focused relationships with mentors," said Spencer. "However, in our study, we found that these girls' relationships with their mentors offered both emotional support and opportunities to develop skills and confidence through collaborations with their mentors in shared activities, such as doing homework together or learning to sing."

A key ingredient needed for the healthy psychological development in adolescents is a strong relationship with adults. For these young people living in single-parent homes or coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, community-based mentoring programs try to create such connections by matching them with
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Contact: Ronald Rosenberg
ronrosen@bu.edu
617-358-1240
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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