ATHENS - Community mentors can help rural African-American youths reduce anger or avoid legal problems and substance abuse, U.S. researchers suggested.
Steve Kogan, assistant professor of child and family development at the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said mentoring relationships were even more powerful for young adults experiencing hardship.
Kogan and colleagues said the study involved 345 African-Americans starting when they were age 17 or 18 and measured how they progressed during an 18-month period by interviewing the youths, their mentors and their parents.
The eight Georgia counties in which the young adults in the mentoring program lived are among the highest in the nation in poverty and unemployment, Kogan said.
"If you have someone special outside of your family that helps you set goals and maintain self-control, you can compensate for difficulties in your own life," Kogan said in a statement. "If the youths had some bad things going on in their life, including being treated badly through discrimination or different family stressors, it was particularly helpful for them to have a good relationship with a mentor."
The study, published in the early online edition of American Journal of Community Psychology, found the better the youth-mentor relationship was, the less likely the young adults were breaking rules or being aggressive when they were 19 or 20.