All the evidence indicates that young people who have at least one influential mentor in their lives are more likely to take positive risks that promote overall development and mental health. But fears about predators cause some parents to discourage mentoring relationships.
This article cites a study sponsored by SADD and Liberty Mutual Group that reflects this trend.
Charlotte Observer | 01/07/2007 | Should parents fear mentors?:
"Despite clear evidence of the positive effects of mentoring, 53 percent of teens say their parents discourage them from participating in organizations or activities where such mentoring might occur. One in five specifically cite parental concern for their personal safety."
The author, psychologist Stephen Wallace, national chairman and CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions, Inc., contends that "the bogeyman effect" brought about by the media's excessive coverage of select child abuse incidents appears to be chilling mentoring relationships out of proportion to the risk. The benefits of mentoring are too important to lose to fear.
He argues that parents are wise to be wary, but they can take simple steps to ensure their children's safety.
1. Stay involved. Know who your teen spends time with, where they're going and what they're doing.
2. Get to know your teen's mentors. Working together will benefit your teen and give you a better sense of your teen's safety.
3. Encourage your teen's involvement in organizations that conduct employee or volunteer screenings and/or criminal and sexual offender background checks.