A University of Georgia study says that mentors have played a vital role in helping rural African-American young adults stay focused on their goals.
The project titled 'Adults in the Making project' aims at teaching the youth to tackle potential difficulties associated with emerging adulthood and curbing aggressive behaviours such as anger, breaking the law and substance abuse.
Researchers have found that informal mentors provide the required support and help youngsters learn to deal with adult problems.
"If the youths had some bad things going on in their life, including being treated badly through discrimination or different family stressors, it was particularly helpful for them to have a good relationship with a mentor," said Steve Kogan, assistant professor of child and family development, UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Kogan and his team studied 345 African Americans from when they were aged 17 to 18 years and measured how they progressed over the following year and a half by interviewing them, their mentors and parents.
The study sought to better understand why some young adults succeed despite tough circumstances after high school,
"The better the youth-mentor relationship was, the less likely the young adults were to be acting out, breaking rules or being aggressive when they were 19 or 20," said Kogan.
The study has been published in the online edition of American Journal of Community Psychology.