How to Connect with Youth

How to Connect with Youth

When it comes to mentoring at risk youth, there are certain things to keep in mind that will aid in the mentorship process and help the mentee to feel cared for.  Be prepared with activities or topics of conversation in an effort to connect with them and figure out the things they like to do. In addition, recognize the following qualities when trying to connect with them so that you can form a strong relationship.

Building Relationships

It can be hard to approach youth who have suffered trauma, lived in broken homes, or who have been involved in the welfare system. These youth often feel disconnected from those around them, especially adults, and it can be hard to form relationships with them. They often don’t have people they can rely on to help them or encourage them, which can contribute to many negative life experiences and a greater disconnect. When all they know is hurt, it is important to stand out as somebody they can trust. The best way to connect with these youth is not through an authoritative relationship, but through a friendship where they feel loved and wanted.

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Making a difference

"There is a great need for effective mentoring relationships in today's culture, and the potential for academic influence is tremendous. There is an increasing number of parents/guardians who divide their time and attention between social responsibilities and providing basic needs for their children, specifically quality care, attention, and support to help them succeed in an ever-changing society of innovation."

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Defining the meaning "At-Risk Youth"

At-Risk Youth

The term "at-risk youth" gained currency in the wake of the 1983 publication of the policy report A Nation At Risk. The report cautioned that America's way of life was threatened by a "rising tide of mediocrity" within the school system. The term "at risk" suggests a focus on prevention and intervention, in the form of social services, tutoring, and related programs. According to the Ngram, it seems to have risen in popularity just as "juvenile delinquent" declined.

"Delinquent" conjures up a state of being, while "at risk" suggests a vulnerable person in need of help. A scholarly paper by Margaret Placier at the University of Missouri, Columbia argues that "at risk" became a buzzword because it was vague enough to be defined broadly or narrowly, depending on the purpose. But Bernstein and Mason both point out that "at risk" also focuses on the negative.

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