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Examining the Referral Stage for Mentoring High-Risk Youth In Six Different Juvenile Justice Settings

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2013
16 pages
This report discusses issues and provides guidance in referring juvenile offenders processed in teen courts/youth courts to a mentoring program, in which a non-parental adult forms a relationship with the youth for the purpose of being an example, guide, and support for the youth's positive development.
Teen/youth court programs are juvenile justice diversion programs in which juveniles who have committed minor offenses are sentenced by their peers. In the course of such sentencing the court may refer the youth to a mentoring program. Such referrals are typically made and/or approved by community-based organizations, schools, or government agencies, including police departments, probation departments, and delinquency courts; therefore, it is important for mentoring and teen court/youth court staff to discuss geographic boundaries when making ad accepting referrals to mentoring programs. Some challenges likely to be addressed in mentoring such youth are outlined under the categories of individual characteristics, family characteristics, school performance issues, and peer associations. Some frequently asked questions in such referrals are posed and answered. Among the issues considered are who refers youth in teen court/youth court to mentoring; the nature of an "embedded" program and how it is important to a successful mentoring program in a teen court/youth court setting; how to build strong relationships between mentoring programs and the youth court; whether youth in teen court/youth court programs are typically willing to participate in mentoring programs; and the issues involved when high-risk youth are referred to mentoring programs. Regarding this latter issue, examples are provided of effective strategies used in referring high-risk youth to a mentoring program. Action steps are proposed for addressing various challenges in mentoring referrals from teen courts/youth courts. A listing is provided of relevant training and technical assistance resources, including Web sites

Date Published: October 1, 2013