, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 221-243

Natural Mentors and Adolescent Resiliency: A Study with Urban Youth

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Natural mentors may play an important role in the lives of adolescents. We interviewed 770 adolescents from a large Midwestern city. Fifty-two percent reported having a natural mentor. Those with natural mentors were less likely to smoke marijuana or be involved in nonviolent delinquency, and had more positive attitudes toward school. Natural mentors had no apparent effect on anxiety or depression. Using the resiliency theory framework, natural mentors were found to have compensatory but not protective effects on problem behaviors, and both compensatory and protective effects on school attitudes. Direct and indirect (mediated) effects of natural mentors are explored for problem behaviors and school attitudes. The potential importance of natural mentors is supported, and implications for future research are considered.