205847 Barriers, bumps and bridges: How cultural differences shape the youth mentoring process over time

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:50 PM

Jaime Elizabeth Lederer, MSW , School of Social Work, Boston Univesrity, Boston, MA
Antoinette M. Basualdo-Delmonico, MS , School of Social Work, Boston Univesrity, Boston, MA
Renée Spencer, EdD, LICSW , School of Social Work, Boston Univesrity, Boston, MA
Because strong relationships with adults are crucial to healthy psychological development in adolescence, social work has long supported mentoring as an intervention for promoting youth development. Formal mentoring programs seek to foster such connections by matching at-risk youth with an unrelated adult in the hope that a supportive relationship develops. Issues of culture and class difference appear to affect formal mentoring relationships (FMR); for example, adults and youth matched through these programs tend to have different racial and class backgrounds, while adults and youth in naturally-occurring mentoring relationships tend to share similar backgrounds.

The purpose of this study is to better understand how mentors and youth navigate cultural differences in FMRs. Qualitative interview data from a mixed-methods longitudinal study of mentoring were analyzed. Twelve pairs of youth/mentors were interviewed three times: at match, 3, and 6 months into the relationship. Pairs were interviewed together and each partner alone. Interviews were recorded and transcribed; transcripts were analyzed thematically by a public health social worker and social work doctoral student using continuous comparison methods.

Findings: Three relationship trajectory themes were identified: 1) Non-connectors: pairs that were unable to overcome differences; 2) Eroders: pairs that initially connected but whose relationship deteriorated as worldview and experience differences emerged; 3) Sustainers: pairs who forged meaningful connections despite differences. Relational processes distinguishing each trajectory were also identified. These findings highlight the complexity of FMRs, More research is needed on facilitating cultural differences.

Learning Objectives:
1.) Describe the different ways that mentors and youth navigate cultural differences in their mentoring relationships over time. 2.) Identify implications of the findings related to how these mentors and youth responded to and managed cultural differences for public health professionals concerned with positive youth development. 3.) Identify the role public health social work can play in bridging cultural differences in youth mentoring program development and training.

Keywords: Youth, Social Work

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Research funded by WT Grant Foundation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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