Mentoring Vulnerable Youth in King County

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Photograph by ©Rebecca Sullivan

King County is facing a crisis in youth crime. One-third of the youths detained by the county are youths of color; in 2008, they represented almost two-thirds of the youths in detention.* While current numbers show an improvement of minority incarceration rates, this is still unacceptable.

Young people are susceptible to influence, particularly while their brains are still developing to full maturity, which peaks around age 25. Every day we see teenagers make decisions that not only limit future opportunities, but also negatively impact their friends, families, and the community.

We believe in being a positive influence in the lives of developing youth, and we’ve witnessed firsthand how mentoring can effect change at a grassroots level.

How did we get here?

Washington State ranks 33rd in the nation for the percentage of children living in homes where neither parent has full-time, year-round employment.

“According to the 2004 Mentoring Report for Washington State, there are 240,000 youth in Washington who are at-risk and in need of mentoring from a caring adult. Only 20,000 of these youth, 8 percent, have mentors.

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has studied the mentoring program in Washington’s juvenile justice system, finding it reduced recidivism, or re-offending, and returns $3.58 of benefit to society for every dollar spent.” –DSHS website

To get kids back on track, we must address the root causes of their situation:
  • Poverty: Financial strain makes it hard for families to stay together.
  • Broken families: Without a cohesive family foundation, youths lack structure to ensure they stay out of trouble.
  • Insufficient or poor role models
  • Acceptance of crime: Peer influence and neighborhood norms make crime involvement commonplace.
  • Media influence: Messaging via the Internet and music glamorizes & normalizes crime.

Mentoring Offers Hope

  • Mentoring is a structured, trusting relationship youths can rely upon.
  • Our program pairs young people with caring individuals who offer guidance, support, and encouragement.
  • Consistent mentoring helps develop the youth’s competence, confidence, and character.
What role does the mentor play?

The mentor is a trusted guide, supporter, and friend who assists and encourages youth to fulfill educational and vocational goals. They may also be a first contact and sounding board for youths desiring to live a drug-free or alcohol-free lifestyle.

What kind of child needs a mentor?

Kids from struggling families.
Kids who need extra help with school.
Kids trying to figure out their place in the world.
Kids who lack positive adult influence in their lives.

Research shows mentoring programs have:
  • Reduced first-time drug use by almost half
  • Cut first-time alcohol use by a third
  • Cut school absenteeism by half
  • Improved family and peer relationships
  • Increased student’s confidence in school

Consider joining us by becoming a mentor!

If you have questions about becoming a donor or mentor, please contact us at info@the4ccoalition.org today.

*Additional Washington State statistics:
King County Juvenile Court
King County Juvenile Court Probation

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