Youth mentoring: Empowerment or control?
WORKSHOP LED BY TEREZA BRUMOVSKA & MARTIN JAVORNICKY
Tereza Brumovska’ holds a PhD in Sociology (2017) from UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, the School of Political Science and Sociology at National University of Ireland, Galway. Tereza has a long-standing research interest in the topic of mentoring phenomena and on children and young people, their lives, experiences and perspectives, and socio-ecological factors that impact on their positive development. She is especially interested in youth mentoring relationships, the role of mentors and significant adults in positive development and participatory research methods with children. Tereza currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the NUI Galway in Ireland, exploring children’s attitudes to science and scientists (CATSS Study, 2019-2020).
Martin Javornicky holds a PhD from the School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway (completed in 2019). His research interests are focused on the theoretical and empirical sociology of power and its application to the study of social change and modernity. Martin currently works as a postdoctoral researcher in Teagasc, Ireland.
Formal youth mentoring interventions has been widely implemented as programmes for social support of socially-disadvantaged children and young people worldwide. The impact studies, evaluations and meta-analytic reviews showed that formal youth mentoring interventions have small but significant effect on the service ́s recipients. Nevertheless, not all formal youth mentoring relationships are beneficial for mentees (Grossman, Rhodes, 2002; Rhodes et al., 2009). Research showed that some of them even impose significant risks on mentees (Grossman, Rhodes, 2002; Brumovska, Seidlova Malkova, 2010; Brumovska, 2017). For instance, the British mentoring researchers before showed the risks and ethical dilemmas of the formal youth mentoring interventions when having a mission to „correct the deficits in mentees“ through „the right“ role- models: voluntary formal mentors (Colley, 2003; Philip, 1998).
The paper uses the results of the longitudinal phenomenological tracking study that was carried out with 11 mentoring matches in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Czech Republic programme (Brumovska, 2017). The study tracked 11 mentoring matches during the first month of their meetings and subsequently after 4th and 8th months of their mentoring involvement. Following that, the IPA method was applied to the data analysis. Finally, the self-determination theory (Ryan, Deci, 1985, 2000) was used to discuss the research results. This paper aims to critically discuss the socio-cultural context of the Czech biggest youth mentoring programme Big Brothers Big Sisters and its mission. Following that, the paper shows the results of the study in analysis of mentors ́ helping attitudes to socially-disadvantaged children and young people. Drawing on the theoretical framework of power and empowerment, it then discuss the risks and ethical issues of power and control in FYMRs, and questions the ethical risks and dilemmas in the practice of formal youth mentoring interventions. As a result, the paper argues for strong focus on children ́s rights and child-centred policy strategies in the mission and evidence-based practice of FYMIs. It shows the importance of clearly articulated child- centred mission of the formal youth mentoring programme, and importance of the mentoring practices that critically reflect approach of mentors to children based on their helping attitudes as well as on the beliefs and helping attitudes of mentoring staff.