Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today's Youth

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A child at loose ends needs help, and someone steps in--a Big Brother, a Big Sister, a mentor from the growing ranks of volunteers offering their time and guidance to more than two million American adolescents. Does it help? How effective are mentoring programs, and how do they work? Are there pitfalls, and if so, what are they? Such questions, ever more pressing as youth mentoring initiatives expand their reach at a breakneck pace, have occupied Jean Rhodes for more than a decade. In this provocative, thoroughly researched, and lucidly written book, Rhodes offers readers the benefit of the latest findings in this burgeoning field, including those from her own extensive, groundbreaking studies.

Outlining a model of youth mentoring that will prove invaluable to the many administrators, caseworkers, volunteers, and researchers who seek reliable information and practical guidance, Stand by Me describes the extraordinary potential that exists in such relationships, and discloses the ways in which nonparent adults are uniquely positioned to encourage adolescent development. Yet the book also exposes a rarely acknowledged risk: unsuccessful mentoring relationships--always a danger when, in a rush to form matches, mentors are dispatched with more enthusiasm than understanding and preparation--can actually harm at-risk youth. Vulnerable children, Rhodes demonstrates, are better left alone than paired with mentors who cannot hold up their end of the relationships.

Drawing on work in the fields of psychology and personal relations, Rhodes provides concrete suggestions for improving mentoring programs and creating effective, enduring mentoring relationships with youth.

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Editorial Reviews

Gary Walker
Everyone who cares for and worries about today's youth--parents, teachers, program operators, policy makers, funders and citizens who want to make a difference--should read this book. It not only provides useful advice about mentoring programs, but reminds us of the essential role that relationships with outsiders play in successful human development.
Peter L. Benson
Stand by Me provides the clearest presentation of mentoring theory and research I have seen. And importantly, it gives practical guidelines for increasing mentoring's impact on youth. I highly recommend this engaging and readable book not only to mentors and mentoring organizations, but also to all adults who work with our nation's youth.
Richard M. Lerner
Jean Rhodes' Stand by Me is an important, insightful, creatively integrative, and engagingly written book. Rhodes has discussed with great precision the breadth and depth of academic theory and research pertinent to youth mentoring. In addition, she conveys a sophisticated understanding of the forces within the policy making community and among youth-serving professionals that, together, place a great burden on mentoring to provide a solution to the challenges to healthy development confronting America's young people.
Karen Hein
Stand by Me is a treasure trove of ideas for adults who want to make a difference in the lives of young people. Jean Rhodes' research and synthesis of the "do's and don'ts" of mentoring will help create the types of meaningful bonds between young people and others that will help them thrive, not simply survive. The book contains useful, important information about when and why mentoring works. She explains the quality of relationships needed to create the types of bonds that matter.
Judith Vredenburgh
This extraordinary book is a must read for anyone involved in youth mentoring. Jean Rhodes' wonderfully lucid writing and wise reflections on years of research illuminate how mentoring works---and how it can be improved.
Geoffrey T. Boisi
Everyone who cares about expanding the availability of quality mentoring should read this book. It reaffirms that we must continue to seek creative ways to meet the wide array of mentoring needs that exist among this country's wonderful young people.
Library Journal
With over two million young people now involved in an adult volunteer program and further growth expected, mentoring is an important topic. Here, Rhodes (psychology, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston) well summarizes the results of her decade-long analysis, as well as other studies (e.g., the Public/Private Venture's survey of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) of what exactly makes youth mentoring programs effective. Mentors, she found, can greatly support at-risk adolescents in three important ways: enhancing their social skills, improving the cognitive skills through dialog and listening, and serving as a role model and advocate. However, those not up to the difficult task of forming an emotional bond can actually harm more than help. Demonstrating strong research and writing skills, Rhodes also defines mentoring, discusses some of the social and political factors that have heightened interest in mentoring, reviews the risks of these relationships, highlights some of the lessons from behavioral therapy that might be profitably applied to mentoring, and makes recommendations for further research. Highly recommended for all academic libraries supporting the social sciences. Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674016118
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2004
  • Series: Family and Public Policy Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,284,634
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean E. Rhodes is Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
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Table of Contents


1. Inventing a Promising Future

2. How Successful Mentoring Works

3. The Risks of Relationship

4. Going the Distance

5. Mentoring in Perspective




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