Antisocial behaviour schemes may fail to deliver

02/26/04

Mentoring to reduce antisocial behaviour in childhood BMJ Vol 328, pp 512-4

Mentoring schemes to reduce antisocial behaviour among young people should not be recommended because, despite their popularity with politicians and policy makers, they are based on inconclusive evidence, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

Mentoring schemes typically involve a volunteer who provides support or guidance to someone younger or less experienced.

Last year, the UK government announced 850,000 of funding for mentoring schemes in England. In the United States, President Bush recently announced plans for a $450m expansion of mentoring programmes for young people.

The authors argue that research on mentoring programmes does not provide evidence of measurable gains in outcomes such as truanting or other antisocial behaviours. Mentoring programmes can also have a negative impact, and adverse effects associated with breakdowns of relationships with mentors have been reported.

On the basis of these findings, they conclude that non-directive mentoring programmes delivered by volunteers cannot be recommended as an evidence-based intervention for young people at risk of or already involved in antisocial behaviour or criminal activities.

The findings also highlight the potential dangers of rolling out national programmes based on inadequate evidence.

"Research and development in health and social care needs huge investment if we are to develop adequate social interventions for big problems," they conclude.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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