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Positive impact of mentoring is undeniable

One saying that I have developed in my years on the bench and in the classroom is “I will work with anybody as long as they give me something to work with.”

Everyone should be given an opportunity to succeed, achieve, be rehabilitated or changed.

This slogan works best for those who are willing to accept the challenge of being accountable and committed to their goals.

But, what about those who are not motivated or lack the necessary tools to progress?

It can be disheartening to see young people not realizing their full potential. Some are trapped in a cycle of petty crime that is either hard to escape or that leads to more serious offenses.

Others are striving to stay on the right path by pursuing opportunities, but do not have the sense of direction and focus needed to stay on track.

For many young people, the necessary tools to progress can be groomed through mentoring relationships.

The National Mentoring Partnership estimates that of adults who were mentored as at-risk youth, about 55 percent are more likely to be enrolled in college and 78 percent were more likely to volunteer regularly.

Additionally, 9 out of 10 of those youth were likely to pass the torch by becoming mentors themselves as adults.

As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

If the horse doesn’t drink, he will not thrive and will ultimately show signs of dehydration.

Dehydration in the figurative sense leads to repeat criminal offenders, a workforce that is unprepared to compete in the global economy and a growing sense of hopelessness about where society is headed.

Thanks to technology, our youth are blessed with access to resources that could not be found in the hardback encyclopedias of my day.

The wealth of knowledge can be overwhelming and dangerous in immature, unguided hands.

However, if used correctly, Internet resources such as social media, online news and databases can connect youth to people, places and things that could have a positive impact on the decisions they ultimately make in life.

Positive interactions with mentors can help youth make informed decisions about how they use their mobile devices as well as how they apply the knowledge gained.

Good mentoring relationships can help equip youth with the tools needed to thrive. Several established civic and community organizations have mentoring components and invest a lot of time and energy into working with youth.

However, informal mentoring can be just as powerful and even more effective for young people who need support, encouragement and advice on various issues they may face in life.

Personal growth and development and strong social and critical thinking skills are some other benefits of positive mentoring interactions.

The time required of a mentor could be as short as a 5-minute conversation about proper hygiene and attire or as intense as a commitment to see a young person ultimately achieve educational or employment success.

The return on your investment as a mentor is immeasurable. The impact you can make is undeniable.
Toni Walker Terrett is municipal court judge in Vicksburg.