Adult Mentor Relationships May Help Reduce High-Risk Behaviors Among Teens
June 9, 2000
A study in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that teens with adult mentors are less likely to participate in high-risk behaviors.
Researchers surveyed 294 youth between the ages of 12 and 23 who were patients at a community-based teaching hospital in suburban New Jersey between August 1995 and March 1996.
Researchers looked at five major categories of risk behaviors including tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, violence, and sexual intercourse. Participants were asked about the onset, duration, and intensity of each risk behavior. Multivariate analyses were used to compare the relationship between risk behaviors and mentoring.
Teen Relationships with Adult Mentors
Association Between High-Risk Behaviors and Adult Mentorship
Researchers assessed the impact of mentors and found that adolescents with a mentor (both parent and non-parent) were less likely to be at higher risk, defined as participating in two or more of the risk behaviors.
In order to assess whether parent mentors played a different role in preventing risk behaviors than non-parent mentors, researchers examined data from a subset of higher risk adolescents. They concluded that connectiveness to a trusted adult, regardless of whether it is a parent, makes a positive contribution to the life, development, and behaviors of an adolescent.
The authors conclude that health care providers need to inform parents, both mothers and fathers, about the vital role they can play as a mentor to their teens. They note that only 1% of teens in this study named their physician as the person they can usually turn to for help and advice. The authors suggest that health care providers need to let teens know that they are approachable.
The authors also stress that the utilization of adult mentors should be supported as a key strategy in working with adolescents to decrease certain risk behaviors and their consequent morbidity and mortality.
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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.