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Overview of the Handbook

During the past decade, mentoring of youth has become an immensely popular and widespread concept. There are now more than 4,500 agencies and programs that offer mentoring services in the U.S. alone as well as a rapidly growing presence of mentoring initiatives in other countries. Reflecting these trends, a recent national survey found that approximately 2.5 million adults (1.2% of those surveyed) had provided one-to-one mentoring to a young person in a formal mentoring program. A much larger number, approximately one-third (34%) of all adults, reported that they have mentored a young person in the past year when less structured avenues for mentoring were considered. As this latter trend indicates, so-called naturally-occurring mentoring relationships that take root outside of formal programs are commonplace in today's society.

The research literature on youth mentoring, although still in an early stage of development, has burgeoned in size in the past decade. For theory, research, and the practice of youth mentoring to truly advance, there needs to be a critical assessment and integration of the field’s accumulated knowledge. The Handbook of Youth Mentoring© is designed to address this need. The Handbook is intended to be a valuable resource across the wide range of academic disciplines in which there are active programs of research on youth mentoring. The handbook also is designed to address the needs of professionals, such as program administrators and policy makers. This will be accomplished through an accessible, non-technical style of presentation and detailed discussions of implications for practice.

The body of the handbook is divided into seven sections. The sections are arranged so that readers are first presented with an historical overview of mentoring, conceptual frameworks for understanding mentoring as it is currently practiced in the U.S. and elsewhere, and perspectives on mentoring relationships and their role within youth and adult development. Next, a section is devoted to differing types of formal mentoring programs and their effectiveness. Further sections consider the different contexts in which mentoring occurs and issues involved with mentoring different youth populations. The handbook concludes with an examination of policy issues related to youth mentoring. The sections and their titles are as follows:

Part I, Concepts, Foundations, and Frameworks, includes an historical overview of mentoring, conceptual models of how mentoring works, and frameworks for classifying its many variations.

Part II, Mentoring Relationships, focuses on the nature and stages of mentoring relationships and on methods for assessing and understanding relationships. Specific attention is given to both naturally-occurring mentoring relationships and cultural issues in mentoring ties.

Part III, Developmental Perspectives, includes an overview of the role of developmental theory and research in youth mentoring. Attention is given to the issues involved in mentoring youth at specific ages as well as to the effects that serving as a mentor has on adults.

Part IV, Formal Mentoring Programs, addresses practical issues involved in implementing mentoring programs as well as their effectiveness in promoting positive youth development. Specific types of programs and the integration of mentoring into multi-component interventions also are considered.

Part V, Contexts of Mentoring, addresses mentoring programs and mentoring relationships in specific types of settings, such as in schools, workplaces, afterschool programs, and religious organizations. Mentoring in the context of differing countries and cultures also is considered.

Part VI, Special Populations, addresses the mentoring of specific populations of youth. Separate chapters are devoted to mentoring with juvenile offenders, pregnant teens, gifted and talented students, youth academically at-risk, youth with histories of abuse or neglect, and youth with disabilities.

Part VII, Policy Issues, considers the relationship between youth mentoring and public policy, both in the U.S. and abroad.


© 2003 Michael J. Karcher, David L. DuBois, and Sage Publications. Any requests to use information from the web site, the book, or content intended for publication in the Handbook should be directed to the Contracts Administration department of Sage Publications, attention Sarah Roushan. All rights reserved.

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