National Mentoring Resource Center Blog

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Dear Dr. Jones: Ethical Decision-Making Example #2: Truth or Consequences

JULY 26, 2017

Welcome back, ethics enthusiasts! Mentoring maniacs! Problem-solving pros!

I am delighted you have returned for Round 3 in this series on ethical decision-making in youth mentoring programs. In the off chance that you missed the near-viral(ish) first and second posts, you can find them here and here.

Post #1 introduced an innovative framework for mentoring professionals, programs, volunteers, and others to address challenging ethical dilemmas in practice. The second installment tackled a real-life reader-submitted ethical dilemma that I analyzed and discussed using the framework as a guide.

So what’s behind door #3?

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The Restorative Power of Mentoring for Sexually Exploited Youth

JULY 7, 2017

The May edition of the Collaborative Mentoring Webinar Series focused on mentoring youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. MANY served as the facilitator of this webinar, bringing together practitioners with expertise in this area for an important conversation about the needs of young people who have faced commercial sexual exploitation, and how mentoring programs can be sensitive to these experiences and support healing. Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, Founder and Executive Director for the Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University provided an overview of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). She described family and system-level risk factors that may be associated with a young person’s experience with commercial sexual exploitation, such as a history of exploitation in the family, abuse, abandonment, significant drug or alcohol abuse in the home, housing instability, unmet basic needs, and the lack of a consistent adult in the young person’s life. Dr. Roswurm also discussed how mentoring can act as a protective factor, providing an example of a healthy relationship and offering support and care without expecting anything in return.

Two other experts in the field joined us for the panel discussion to share their knowledge and experience in mentoring victims/survivors of CSEC. Ann Wilkinson, Director of Mentoring Services at My Life My Choice and Tiffany Wilhelm, Crisis Stabilization Program Coordinator at La Causa described how their mentoring services support victims/survivors of commercial sexual exploitation in their healing journeys. Karen, Ann, and Tiffany shared their different approaches to mentor training and ongoing support, providing participants with concrete examples for preparing mentors to serve victims/survivors. In addition, all three panelists noted that they place a strong emphasis on survivor voice and leadership at many levels in their programs. This approach ensures that those who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation are recognized as integral to designing and delivering effective services for victims/survivors.

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Mentoring is About More than Mentors - A Call for Research and Practice to Catch Up with this Important Reality

JULY 6, 2017

One of my kids’ favorite pastimes when visiting relatives in Ohio is “catch a sundae.” This basically involves them standing at the bottom of a raised deck with bowls, trying to catch ice cream and assorted toppings dropped from above by their aunt and older niece. As might be expected, a lion’s share of the goodies land on the ground. But those that don’t make for a very delicious and satisfying treat! As odd as it may sound, this sugary family tradition offers an apt analogy for how I have come to see the status of our efforts to both understand and harness the power of mentoring in young people’s lives. On the one hand, the parts of mentoring that we are able to capture with our investigations and tap into with programs are undeniably important and a positive influence on the youth involved. On the other hand, I’m equally convinced that our research is failing rather abysmally when it comes to providing anything approaching a complete picture of a typical young person’s mentoring experiences. Current practices, likewise, are not geared toward ensuring that effective mentoring is infused throughout all parts of each youth’s day-to-day life.

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Youth Homelessness, Commercial Sexual Exploitation and the Realities of Survival

JUNE 5, 2017

Editor’s note: The OJJDP NMRC has partnered with MANY this year to highlight the importance and need for mentoring for children and youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC). This is the first in a series of posts featuring key insights about mentoring for young people impacted by commercial sexual exploitation. You can find a summary of information and a compilation of resources on this topic on the NMRC here.

Brea ran away from home many times to escape the physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather, but was always taken home by the police or family members she went to for help. When she left again at age 15, she was determined to make it on her own. Homeless, underage, and without a diploma or employment skills, Brea’s options for supporting herself were limited. A family friend offered to let her stay at his apartment, promising to take care of her and protect her from her stepfather. Brea says this is how she “fell into it.”

Survival sex, or the exchange of sex for food, shelter, or other necessities frequently involves an adult who provides care or support but later expects payment in the form of sex. A 2017 study of homeless youth, the largest ever to date, found that 15% of homeless youth had been trafficked for sex and 32% had been involved in the sex trade in some way. The exploitive nature of these relationships, combined with the abuse and neglect many homeless youth experience prior to leaving home, leads them to distrust relationships, particularly with adults.

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13 Reasons Why: What Do Youth Development Professionals Need to Know?

MAY 23, 2017

Over the past several weeks, many youth development professionals have become aware of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, which revolves around the suicide of a female high school student, Hannah Baker. Due to its fast-spreading popularity, whether or not you have seen it, you may have received questions from parents and youth about the themes that are addressed in the series. These themes, many of which are uncomfortable and controversial, are nonetheless important to talk about, especially with students of a similar age to the characters depicted on the show. Conversations about mental health and suicide can reduce the stigma behind these experiences to allow those who are suffering to know that they are not alone and can get help. However, because of the complexity of these topics and the ways in which they are depicted in the series, parents/guardians, school administrators, and youth development professionals should be aware of the questions and concerns young people may have after watching it, so they can be prepared for the important discussions the series may spark.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series’ premise, the story unfolds through a series of pre-recorded tapes on which the main character, Hannah Baker, describes thirteen reasons that led up to her suicide. Through the episodes the audience finds out that Hannah has had many rumors spread about her, and that eventually she was the target of bullying, social isolation, and sexual abuse. Below, we offer some information about the complex themes addressed in the show, and where you can go for more resources. As we know many parents and youth development professionals have been addressing these topics with youth, we invite you to post other resources and tips you have found useful in the comments section below.

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