Displaying items by tag: Children exposed to violence

Friday, 15 March 2019 11:50


MARCH 15, 2019

Art Heals!

Karen pulls up to the suburban four-bedroom home in West Phoenix, opens her trunk and pulls out two green canvas bags that read “Free Arts” on the side. She looks up and notices a small face pressed against the glass in the front window. The front door swings open and a staff member from the foster care group home unlocks the screen from the inside, letting Karen into the house. Immediately, two grade school aged girls run up and ask, “What are we making today, Miss Karen?” “You’ll see!” Karen replies with a twinkle in her eye. “Want to help me set out the supplies?” The girls agree and set to work. Soon, five other girls trickle into the kitchen area, some with wet hair fresh from the shower, others already in their pajamas. They gather around the large dining table, picking up supplies and asking excited questions, “Are these for us?” “What are these?” “Ooo, shiny!” one exclaims about some stickers fresh from the package. “I’m new here, who are you?” one asks.

Published in NMRC Blog
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 09:14

Bulletin Examines Trauma-Informed Classrooms

NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Trauma Informed Classrooms

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has released "Trauma-Informed Classrooms." This OJJDP-funded technical assistance bulletin provides an overview of the impact of trauma on students and explores how adverse life experiences can impact their behavior in the classroom. The bulletin also offers strategies for creating trauma-informed classrooms. This bulletin and the associated webinar will be useful for youth practitioners across the board because integrating a trauma-informed approach into your program’s policies and procedures fosters resilience and recovery for the youth that you serve. This information may be especially relevant to mentoring practitioners implementing school-based or group mentoring models, since many of its recommendations – like its discussion of common classroom triggers, for example – can be applied to programs that bring young people and adults together regularly in groups.


Pickens, I.B., & Tschopp, N. (2017). Trauma-Informed Classrooms. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Published in NMRC Blog
APRIL 9, 2019

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for communities nationwide to encourage action to improve the safety and well-being of youth. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance that focuses on promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families, and raising awareness about the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. According to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, 3.5 million children were subject to at least one maltreatment report in fiscal year 2017. OJJDP is partnering with the HHS Administration for Children and Families’ Children’s Bureau, the National Children’s Alliance, and OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center to promote community partnerships and support efforts to address child abuse and neglect. Learn more about these partnerships and what you can do to end child abuse.

Published in NMRC Blog

Denver Children's Home

Denver Children’s Home, Bansbach Academy (DCH) is a Colorado Department of Education accredited facility-based school that serve students who have experienced trauma and have learning difficulties as a result. Because of the experiences of these youth, DCH strives to consistently and intentionally connect its youth with qualified adults who will work in the youths’ best interests. According to Marisa A. Murgolo, LCSW, who is DCH’s Director of Daytime & Community Based Programs, the Children’s Home emphasizes “exposing [youth] to adults who are safe and invested in their growth.”

In order to achieve this goal, DCH reached out to MENTOR Colorado’s Drew DeMarie. The Denver Children’s Home applied to receive no-cost Technical Assistance (TA) through the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC). “We wanted to develop a training protocol for mentors,” Murgolo says, “who will be working with children and adolescents with trauma backgrounds, mental health issues, and educational challenges.”

Denver Children's Home.jpgDeMarie used therapeutic crisis intervention practices and training materials based off MENTOR’s Element of Effective Practice in Mentoring (EEPM) Toolkit to develop guidance for DCH mentors. Through a combination of in-person trainings and phone and video conference calls, DeMarie collaborated with Murgolo and DCH’s Educational Director, Annie Haskins, to create two 3-hour training sessions for incoming mentors that would prepare them to meet the needs of DCH’s unique population. “Our students have special challenges, Haskins says. “Drew was skilled in helping us navigate their needs and build aspects of the program that weren’t possible prior to his involvement.”

Because of their NMRC TA, Denver Children’s Home has the resources to provide its mentors with guidance on best practices in trauma-informed mentoring and enhance the support it provides for its youth. As Murgolo and Haskins agree, “we have a training program for mentors that we feel confident about.”

“DCH now has some of the training tools to guide interested volunteers towards becoming trauma-informed, effective mentors,” DeMarie says.

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) partners with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to deliver the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) to the mentoring field. In addition to convening a Research Board which develops evidence-based reviews about mentoring topics, and offering a comprehensive mentoring resource center website, the NMRC provides mentoring programs nationwide with the opportunity to request and receive no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests technical assistance, their request is assigned to a local or regional technical assistance provider within MENTOR's network of state and local affiliates and TA providers. New and emerging mentoring programs may benefit from technical assistance to help them design and implement programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, while existing or established programs may utilize TA to improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.

Learn more about Denver Children’s Home here, and MENTOR Colorado here. Submit a request for no-cost technical assistance for your youth mentoring program here.

Published in TA Spotlights
SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
Engaging the Faith Community through Shared Intentions

Faith and spirituality are known to be key protective factors for youth, particularly those who have been, or are at risk of being sexually exploited (Countryman-Roswurm, 2012). In serving young people, naming the value of someone’s relationship with the Universe/God/Spirit/Higher Power, and how they see it is a powerful part of many interventions and should be given space in the mentoring world. The faith-community has been a long-time supporter of mentoring efforts, as well as in joining the fight against human trafficking and supporting victims of sexual exploitation. Integrating spirituality is an important aspect of holistic services and the faith community offers much as a community resource.

Understanding the difference between spirituality and religion can be helpful as you consider how to incorporate spirituality into services for survivors of CSEC and other youth at risk. It is not about elevating one religion over another or insisting that program participants associate with a certain religion. Rather, it is about helping them to explore, understand and express their own views on spirituality.

Published in NMRC Blog

Friends of the ChildrenFounded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit that works to break the cycle of generational poverty by empowering youth to change their own stories. What began with three salaried, professional mentors and 24 children has grown to serve thousands of children in 15 communities nationally and in the U.K. Fueled by federal grants – including grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – and private philanthropy, Friends of the Children is positioned to double enrollment in the next four years, with the ultimate goal of expanding to 25 cities by 2025.

Mentoring Model

Friends of the ChildrenFriends of the Children selects children who are experiencing foster care or are in high-poverty schools and pairs them with a salaried, professional mentor (called a Friend) who mentors them from kindergarten through high school graduation – 12 ½ years, no matter what.

The children who qualify for the program are youth whose exposure to multiple compounding risk factors and adverse childhood experiences has already begun to manifest in behavioral and other challenges. Friends spend 16 intentional hours per month with each child in the classroom, at home, and in the community. Friends ensure the social and emotional development, safety, well-being, and educational success of the youth under their care.

Over the past 25 years, Friends of the Children has developed a strong reputation based on the achievement of proven, measurable outcomes for youth facing the greatest obstacles. An evaluation of program graduates showed that:

  • 83% of youth graduate from high school, though more than 60% have a parent who did not have the necessary support to complete high school themselves
  • 93% of youth avoid the juvenile justice system, though 50% have a parent impacted by the criminal justice system
  • 98% of youth wait until after their teen years to become parents, though 85% were born to a teen parent
  • 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or find employment

Historically, greater than 40% of the youth served by Friends of the Children have experienced out-of-home placements, either through the formal foster care system or through informal placement with kin. Youth who graduate from Friends of the Children achieve these long-term programmatic outcomes at the same rate as their program peers – remarkable results considering the national statistics for youth aging out of foster care.

Incorporating the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM

In order to meet the needs of the youth served, and to ensure that the program is both trauma-informed and culturally responsive, the organization has been working to not only meet, but exceed the Benchmarks and Enhancements under Standard 3 in the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM

Friends of the Children incorporates the Elements by:

  • Providing 40+ hours of comprehensive pre-match training
  • Using training practices and materials that are informed by empirical research or are themselves empirically evaluated
  • Supporting mentors to advance their ongoing professional development in topics such as child development, being trauma informed, and employing culturally-responsive mentoring practices

Support from OJJDP

Since 2015, grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) have enhanced Friends of the Children’s training curriculum in critical topic areas, such as family and school advocacy, navigating systems and child welfare, and supporting youth whose caregivers have been incarcerated.

Most recently, OJJDP funding is supporting Friends of the Children to develop a more robust Program Quality Improvement system to enhance, track, and monitor the effectiveness of all training and professional development activities for mentoring and supervision across its national network.

Connections to Evidence-Based Practice: Child Neglect and Abuse Prevention

Friends of the Children is working to build its evidence-base as a child neglect and abuse prevention and intervention program. The program is proven to build protective factors, which are conditions or attributes that mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities. Meaningful relationships with a positive adult role model have been shown repeatedly in scientific studies to be a protective factor, even for youth who are growing up in very difficult circumstances (DuBois, & Silverthorn, N, 2005).

According to the Children’s Bureau, there are six protective factors that are shown to strengthen families and help parents who may be more likely to make poor decisions that can lead to abuse or neglect (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2018). Third-party evaluations of the Friends of the Children program to date are showing evidence of impact in five of the six areas that build assets and lead to safer, stronger families.

In a recent study by the University of Washington, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, biological families, foster, kinship and adoptive caregivers reported positive impact from the Friends of the Children program in the following four areas: (a) Advocating and Connecting, (b) Knowledge and Skill Building, (c) Relational Support, and (d) Other Types of Support. Concrete examples of these themes include:

  • Friends acting as advocates and liaisons for youth and caregivers as well as helping them navigate complicated systems, including education and child welfare
  • Friends connecting participants and their families to various resources such as counseling, youth programs, transportation assistance, and material resources, such as food and clothing
  • Friends providing various types of support in relation to youths’ education and empowering caregiver participation in school-related activities, such as supporting special needs and attending Individualized Education Program (IED) meetings
  • Friends providing parenting assistance to caregivers, such as working together on common goals, supporting caregivers with youths’ behavioral challenges, and providing insights about the youth caregivers

In addition to these qualitative findings, early findings from the Friends of the Children ongoing multi-site randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation found that parents/caregivers involved in the Friends program are significantly more likely to have a positive perception of their child’s behavior in and out of school - another protective factor for successful parenting (Eddy et al.,2017).

Next Steps

Friends of the Children

Recognizing the power of the model, cross-sector leaders in Los Angeles and New York City have invited Friends of the Children to pioneer a two-generation (“2Gen”) pilot initiative. In those cities, the program is partnering with community-based organizations’ serving parents who have experienced foster care to create a pipeline for youth enrollment.

Parents and their 4-6 year-old children are joining as participants in the program, receiving peer-to-peer support and connections to resources aimed at advancing economic mobility such as housing, education, and workforce development. Third-party evaluators will test whether the Friends of the Children 2Gen approach strengthens family stability, builds stronger networks of family support, improves system access and navigation skills, and creates opportunity for school and career success for both youth and their parents.

As part of its national expansion, Friends of the Children is also working more closely with child welfare agencies around the country to advance its proven model as both a foster care intervention and child abuse prevention innovation that has the potential to create not only life-long change for youth and families, but lasting systems change. In order to help youth and families thrive, Friends of the Children continues to build protective factors that mitigate trauma and improve their safety and well-being.

Related Resources and References

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2018). Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2P10LrE
  • Dubois, D. L., & Silverthorn, N. (2005). Natural Mentoring Relationships and Adolescent Health: Evidence from a National Study. American Journal of Public Health, 95(3), 518-524.
  • Eddy, J. M., Martinez Jr, C. R., Grossman, J. B., Cearley, J. J., Herrera, D., Wheeler, A. C., … Seeley, J. R. (2017). A Randomized Control Trial of a Long-Term Professional Mentoring Program for Children at Risk: Outcomes Across the First 5 Years.
  • Salazar, AM,Haggerty, KP, Walsh, S, Noell, B, Kelley‐Siel, E. Adapting the Friends of the Children programme for child welfare system‐involved families. Child & Family Social Work.  2019; 1- 11.
Published in Featured Grantees

Girls Inc.With local roots dating to 1864 and national status as a non-profit organization in the U.S. since 1945, Girls Inc. seeks to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. The Girls Inc. movement started in New England during the Industrial Revolution as a response to the needs of a new working class: young women who had migrated from rural communities in search of newly available job opportunities in textile mills and factories. Formerly known as Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc. equips girls with the skills they need to navigate economic, gender, and social barriers and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. Girls Inc. makes this transformational change through the Girls Inc. Experience: the people, environment and programming that, together, empower girls to succeed. Trained staff and volunteers build lasting mentoring relationships in girls-only spaces that are physically and emotionally safe and where girls find a sisterhood of support with shared drive, mutual respect, and high expectations. Hands-on, research-based programs provide girls with the skills and knowledge to set goals, overcome obstacles, and improve academic performance. Informed by girls and their families, Girls Inc. also works with policymakers to advocate for legislation and initiatives that increase opportunities for girls.

Girls Inc. strives to serve the girls who need them most, particularly girls from low-income communities and girls of color. Through a network of 83 local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations, Girls Inc. serves 156,263 girls ages 5 - 18 annually in 32 states and provinces across the United States and Canada. Seventy percent of Girls Inc. girls identify as girls of color, including 39% who identify as African-American/ Black, 24% as Latina/ Hispanic, and 7% as Multicultural. 62% of girls served live in households earning $30,000 or less a year. One in ten come from households earning $10,000 or less a year.

The Bold Futures Mentoring Program

Girls Inc.Building on 30 years of mentoring experience and success supporting at-risk girls, Girls Inc. provides the Girls Inc. Bold Futures Mentoring program launched with a $2 million, two-year grant award through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative in 2016 and expanded through a second grant of $1.5 million in 2017

Girls Inc. offers weekly small group mentoring programs, with a ratio of one staff person for every four girls, at 20 Girls Inc. locations in high-need communities across 15 states. Each year of the program, Girls Inc. will serve approximately 1,000 girls ages 9 to 14, providing consistent, in-depth experiences designed to strengthen girls’ coping skills, reduce risk factors, minimize entry/re-entry into the juvenile justice system, and increase family engagement.

The Bold Futures Mentoring program participants include: Girls Inc. of Carpinteria (CA); Girls Inc. of Central Alabama (AL); Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey (PA/NJ); Girls Inc. of Holyoke (MA); Girls Inc. of Jacksonville (FL); Girls Inc. of Kingsport (TN); Girls Inc. of Los Angeles (CA); Girls Inc. of Lynn (MA); Girls Inc. of Memphis (TN); Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas (TX); Girls Inc. of Metro Denver (CO); Girls Inc. of New Hampshire; Girls Inc. of Oak Ridge (TN); Girls Inc. of Omaha (NE); Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest (OR/WA); Girls Inc. of San Antonio (TX); Girls Inc. of Santa Fe (NM) Girls Inc. of Tarrant County (TX); Girls Inc. of Washington County (MD); and Girls Inc. of Worcester (MA).

Program GoalsGirls Inc.

Today, girls throughout the country continue to face real and profound challenges. One in six girls will not finish high school. One in four girls experiences sexual abuse or assault by age 17. And the United States continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world. We also know girls in the U.S. are uniquely affected by poverty. Girls in high-risk communities face stunning exposure to violence, victimization, and sexual assault. Without adequate support, victims too often become offenders – girls may respond to trauma and violence with behaviors that result in their involvement in the juvenile justice system. In response to the need, Girls Inc. is expanding its capacity to help more girls cope with violence and trauma in their world through the Bold Futures Mentoring program.

The goal of the mentoring model is to combine the impact of Girls Inc. programming (each girl receives 52 hours of research-based gender specific Girls Inc. programming), delivered by trained facilitators, with a small group mentoring approach (each girl receives 48 hours of mentoring) to help girls develop the skills and confidence they need to feel safe in their world. Mentors are trained and prepared to support and reinforce the topics addressed in programming, giving girls the opportunity to speak to the mentor and their peers about issues raised during programming, unanswered questions, or requests for more information.

Mentors & Staff

Girls Inc. staff are extensively trained in both program-specific implementation and general facilitation skills, including education about girls’ developmental behaviors that helps them understand and manage groups of girls effectively and with insight. Girls Inc. mentors are recruited locally, thoroughly screened and trained prior to engaging with girls, are largely female, and include college students as well as community volunteers.

Promoting Safety & Preventing Violence through Developmentally Appropriate Education

Girls Inc. believes that girls have the right to be confident in themselves and safe in the world, so their commitment is that every girl in the Bold Futures program participate in a minimum of 12 hours of Girls Inc. Project BOLD – a gender specific violence prevention program that is research-based and age appropriate.

Through Girls Inc. Project BOLD, girls learn skills and strategies to lead safer lives in their homes, in relationships, in their communities, and online. Girls learn specific self-defense techniques and strategies as well as how to seek out and talk to caring adults about personal and gender-based violence. For girls in the BOLD Futures age range, Action for Safety℠ (for girls ages 9-11) builds negotiation, assertiveness, and self-defense skills as well as facilitating open and honest discussions about violence—including teasing and bullying, sexual harassment, dating violence, and physical and sexual abuse—to encourage and support girls who are being hurt and to lessen their fear and sense of isolation. Living Safe and Strong℠ (for girls ages 12-14) continues discussion of gender violence issues, reinforces and provides additional safety strategies and self-defense skills for teen girls, and introduces them to community experts and resources. Girls also develop and conduct community action projects addressing violence issues that are important to them.

Mentors are invited to participate in the program as well, positioning them to understand and further address in their small groups the issues that may arise from taking on the complicated topics related to violence, harassment and abuse.

Program Outcomes

Girls Inc.Through Bold Futures, Girls Inc. aims to equip girls with the guidance, support and skills to be engaged in school, build healthy relationships with peers and family, and reduce negative and high-risk behaviors. Long-term, Bold Futures will become a model program implemented across the larger Girls Inc. network and will be shared with peer organizations to strengthen juvenile justice prevention efforts nationwide.

Specific outcomes for girls in Bold Futures are measured through a retrospective survey process, asking them to identify changes in their behaviors and attitudes following participation in the program, inclusive of a wide range of elements, from school attendance, to standing up for themselves, to substance and tobacco use, to involvement with the justice system. Early data shows that girls who complete the program are meeting the projected target percentages for the vast majority of the outcomes measures.

Beyond outcomes measures, anecdotal evidence of the positive impact of the program on girls abounds. One mentee commented that, “I now know how to protect myself against those bullies at school” (Girls Inc. of New Hampshire). Finally, a significant achievement in the early stages of Bold Futures is the development of a cadre of trained mentors who are willing to dedicate their time to the girls, even beyond the program’s duration. Girls Inc. mentors, who vary by affiliate from college interns to community volunteers, have almost unilaterally taken to heart their role in contributing to a girl’s potential and encouraging her to develop the confidence, resilience, and strength of character that will help her become a healthy, educated and independent young woman.

Connections to Research

Girls Inc. programming is informed by research about the unique experiences of girls, and the specific experiences they face in the juvenile justice system. For example, a history of abuse, violence, or sexual assault is disproportionately prevalent among justice-involved girls. These girls are twice as likely as justice-involved boys to have gone through five or more “adverse childhood experiences” and four times as likely to have experienced sexual assault (Saar, Page, Epstein, Rosenthal, & Vafa, 2015; Shufelt & Cocozza, 2006). Girls are predominantly arrested for nonviolent status offenses such as truancy and running away (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015), which are common responses to violence, bullying or harassment at school, and abuse or conflict at home (Saar et al., 2015).

Girls Inc. also knows that exposure to trauma before high school is a stronger predictor of girls’ delinquency than is an experience of trauma during high school (Marsiglio, Chronister, Gibson, & Leve, 2014). Many girls ages 9 to 14 already carry a burden of trauma, navigating a changing landscape of risks at home, at school, and in their community. More than one-third of juvenile victims of serious violence, and nearly half (47%) of juvenile sexual assault victims, are under the age of 12. Among juvenile victims of violence, 75% of girls are victims of sexual assault, compared to 25% of boys. At school, girls face real risk of sexual assault. Unlike other violent crimes against juveniles, sexual assaults peak during school hours (Sickmund & Puzzanchera, 2014). Girls also face dangers at home: from age 11 on, girls are 35% more likely than boys to be verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abused (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2016).

With these facts at the forefront, Girls Inc. designed Bold Futures to help girls develop the personal and self defense skills they need to feel safe, and to provide them the support of mentors and caring adults who will reinforce and support them, at the ages and developmental stages where these resources are most relevant.

Next Steps 

Girls Inc. is currently exploring ways to strengthen its programming, while sharing its expertise about gender specific mentoring with other organizations. The organization is currently making adjustments to the duration of the program and creating a flexible model allowing Girls Inc. affiliates to customize their recruitment goals to the needs of the communities they serve. They are also working on providing mentor training opportunities specific to working with girls in small groups in a Girls Inc. environment. Program staff regularly utilize resources from MENTOR and the OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center, while research staff participate in webinars and consultation from MENTOR about research-to-practice applications and program assessment.

In 2018, Girls Inc. shared insights from its programming at the National Mentoring Summit.

Related Resources


Marsiglio, Mary C.; Chronister, Krista M.; Gibson, Brandon; & Leve, Leslie D. (2014). Examining the link between traumatic events and delinquency among juvenile delinquent girls: A longitudinal study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma 7(4), 217-225.

Saar, Malika Saada; Epstein, Rebecca; Rosenthal, Linsday; & Vafa, Yasmin (2015). The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Law Center, Center for Poverty and Inequality.

Shufelt, Jennie L., and Joseph. J. Cocozza (2006). Youth with Mental Health Disorders in the Juvenile Justice System: Results from a Multistate Prevalence Study. Research and Program Brief, 1–6. Delmar, N.Y.: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.

Sickmund, Melissa; & Puzzanchera, Charles (2014). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report. Pittsburgh: National Center for Juvenile Justice.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2016). Child maltreatment 2014.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2015). Policy Guidance: Girls and the Juvenile Justice System.

Published in Featured Grantees
JANUARY 20, 2017
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”  — Denzel Washington

People need people. We are social creatures! Each of us needs someone to encourage us when things go wrong and to cheer for us when we have success. So often it is others who see our potential and remind us of our worth.

For youth who are at risk for or have experienced child commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), the need for healthy, supportive relationships is even greater. The trauma that CSEC survivors have experienced is immense and the road to recovery is long. Having someone to walk beside them and encourage them through their recovery journey can make a huge difference. A mentor is someone who can provide this support. By its very definition, a mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser.” Having an experienced and trusted adviser is something that we all find benefit in and, for youth, it is an important factor in positive outcomes.

Published in NMRC Blog
JANUARY 21, 2016

Reflections on the Power of Mentoring with Survivors of Abuse and Exploitation

My name is Karen Countryman-Roswurm and I am the Founder and Executive Director of Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT). CCHT provides direct survivor-centered services, education, training, consultation, research, and advocacy/public policy services. From facilitating prevention groups with at-risk youth to providing advocacy services to survivors of human trafficking, and from providing training on our Lotus Anti-Trafficking ModelTM to assisting in the development of law or policy, CCHT staff are committed to 1) preventing human trafficking 2) intentionally and effectively intervening in situations of trafficking and 3) promoting holistic prosperity among survivors. All of these efforts require relationships.

With National Human Trafficking Awareness Month as well as National Mentoring Month upon us, I have been spending additional time reflecting on the power of relationship. What has relationship meant in my life? What types of relationships or relationship dynamics have been the most helpful in my personal and professional development? Throughout my professional experiences of providing direct-services, as well as providing training and technical assistance (TTA) to Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) grantees and other providers around the country, what have I learned about the power of relationship in the lives of those who are at risk of or who have been subjected to human trafficking? What I do know is this—it is because of committed adults who were willing to step outside of themselves and pour into my life that I am the woman I am today.

Exposed to trauma at an early age due to neglect, abuse, addiction, and divorce, my life took a turn for the worst at the age of thirteen when my mother committed suicide. Without extended family supports, I spent the next three years as a displaced youth—in and out of various foster and group homes and more often than not, as a runaway and homeless youth. During this time I was alone. I felt hopeless. I often acted out of desperation.

Published in NMRC Blog
FEBRUARY 23, 2017

Over the past year, community violence has dominated the news and has spurred greater exploration of systemic inequality, prejudice and racism. Many young people impacted by community violence or trauma are looking for outlets to process their experiences, express their emotions, ask for help and channel their feelings into positive, constructive action. Mentors are uniquely positioned to help young people but may need support to guide their discussions and to serve as allies to young people trying to process their feelings.

JPMorgan Chase recognized this need firsthand through requests that they received from employee mentors in their mentoring program, The Fellowship Initiative. The year-round program engages employees as mentors to young men of color on academic issues, college planning, financial aid, and career pathways in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. In collaboration with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Mental Health Association of NYC, JPMorgan Chase developed a guide to help mentors facilitate what may be difficult discussions with young men of color struggling to understand the violence in their communities.

Published in NMRC Blog
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