Natural youth mentoring and resiliency in low-income adolescents

Elizabeth Altschuler, Fordham University


Research has consistently found that youth living in low-income neighborhoods exhibit a number of negative outcomes, including poor grades, increased rates of high school dropout, engagement in high risk behaviors, poor self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression. Given the deleterious correlates of living in poverty, researchers have sought to explore which factors increase a youth's resilience, or his or her ability to demonstrate competence and adaptive functioning in the face of adversity. The purpose of this study is to examine whether youth who endorse having a natural mentor – defined as an individual who is at least three years older than the youth and acts as a source of help and guidance—acts as such a factor. Accordingly, 242 youth age 11 to 15 from the northeast region of the United States completed the Resilience Scale for Children & Adolescents—an instrument which measures resilience through the domains of sense of mastery, sense of relatedness and emotional reactivity, as well as a survey created to determine whether participants had a natural youth mentor. A multivariate analysis of variance was conducted to determine whether youth endorsing a natural mentor demonstrated higher levels of the aforementioned competencies than those who did not. Primary analyses indicated that, when controlling for gender, having a mentor had a significant effect on sense of relatedness, but not on sense of mastery, emotional reactivity or psychological vulnerability. Findings regarding the relationship between mentorship and these variables are discussed in regards to theory and practice.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology

Recommended Citation

Altschuler, Elizabeth, "Natural youth mentoring and resiliency in low-income adolescents" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3564336.