Children who have mentors are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to display behavioural problems, a new study has found. The study, which spanned for five years, tracked the experiences of almost 1,000 children and teenagers registered with Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across Canada.

One stand out finding is that girls in the study with a Big Sister were four times less likely to bully, fight, lie or express anger than girls without a mentor.

"This ground-breaking research confirms that mentoring changes the trajectory of young lives," says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC).

The study was conducted by a team of academics led by Dr. David DeWit, a senior scientist CAMH in London, Ontario, and Dr. Ellen Lipman, a psychiatrist and Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. The research was made possible by a 1.7 million-dollar grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Key findings:

Girls with a Big Sister are two and a half times more likely than girls without a mentor to be confident in their ability to be successful at school.

Boys with a Big Brother are three times less likely than boys without a mentor to suffer peer pressure related anxiety, such as worrying about what other children think or say about them.

Mentored boys are two times more likely to believe that school is fun and that doing well academically is important. Mentored boys are also two times less likely than non-mentored boys to develop negative conducts like bullying, fighting, lying, cheating, losing their temper or expressing anger.


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