Why you shouldn't be nervous about a mentor for your child

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Why you shouldn't be nervous about a mentor for your child

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Stephen Wallace: Mentors are so important to the lives of young people, especially during the time when they’re trying to make really difficult choices about personal behavior. The search institute says that every young person needs at least 3 non-parent adult mentors in their lives to reach their full potential. In fact, so important are mentors that more than half of young people, 56% say that they would be negatively affected by not having a mentor in their life. In my research, I found that informal mentors help young people develop a positive sense of self, and help them to take risk that affect their lives in a positive way. And yet we know that many parents sometimes are afraid of allowing their children to be in mentoring relationships. 53% of young people say that many parents discourage them from being involved in organizations and activities where those mentoring relationships might occur because of concern for their personal safety. What do I say? I say, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There are a lot of ways to ensure that your children are safe. Number 1: Monitor their activity. Know who they’re spending time with. Where they’re going? What they’re doing? Get to know the mentors in your child’s life. It makes the relationship even stronger. Raising children is a team sport. Mentors are a critical part of that team. The 3rd thing that they can do is get involved with organizations where the adults are screened. Where they go through CORI and SORI checks for example. Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of America, organized camping, sporting organizations, school clubs, teams. All those things offer opportunities for mentors who most likely have been screened. But they have to be asked that question. Do you screen the people in your organization? The adults in your organization? Do they go through criminal background checks? Do they go through sexual offender background checks? Those are important questions for parents to ask.

View Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed's video on Why you shouldn't be nervous about a mentor for your child...

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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