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Naturally Occurring Mentoring Relationships and Criminal Justice Outcomes: A Preliminary Examination Using ADD Health Public Use Data

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2020
8 pages

This report uses data from the public-use data set of the “National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health” (Add Health) to examine the relationship between youth reports of having a mentor and subsequent involvement with the criminal justice system.



The data set consists of a nationally representative sample of adolescents who were in grades 7 - 12 when beginning participation in the study during the 1994-1995 school year. Youth reports of having a mentor and juvenile arrests were collected at Wave III in 2000 when study participants were between the ages of 17 and 26. Criminal justice outcomes included in this report were collected at Wave IV in 2008 when participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. These outcomes included victimization as well as mental health experiences that have been associated with victimization. All analyses are limited to the public-use portion of the dataset (N = 4,177). The report concludes with a brief overview of how the findings can inform future directions in the youth mentoring field. “Mentoring” was assessed with the question, “Other than your parents or step-parents, has an adult made an important positive difference in your life at any time since you were 14 years old?” Overall, 77.7 percent of youth samples (N = 3,241) reported having a mentor. Respondents reported mentors related to them other than as parents or stepparents, including siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. and other types of mentors. Other types of mentors, in order of frequency, were teachers, friends, religious leaders, coaches, friend’s parent, coworker, employer, and others. Respondents were also asked to rate their current closeness to their mentor, with 79.9 percent reporting they still considered the mentor important. Participants reported on their arrest histories at both Wave III and Wave IV. Findings suggest potentially useful directions for further advancement of mentoring programs as an intervention strategy for youth.

Date Published: November 1, 2020