For the Career Prep Academy program, a Parent/Guardian/Mentor should be someone who will:
- give you a ride to meetings
- remind you of appointments (to keep you accountable)
- and take an interest in your progress and your general well-being.
It’s also ideal if your mentor attends meetings with you so that they are aware of what you are learning. Two heads are better than one, and your mentor can remind you of facts you might miss during a meeting.
Generally, a mentor should be older; someone who has gone through your current and future challenges. Their experience and wisdom can be of great assistance to you. It’s important to have someone in your life who can keep you “on track” and provide all these essential things. If your Parent or Guardian cannot provide you with these items on the list, you will need to find a mentor. Some resources for finding a mentor:
- Family Member: Even if your Parent or Guardian is not able to provide you with the help and accountability of a good mentor relationship, a member of your extended family (e.g. Cousin, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, etc.) can be a good option.
- School and Additional mentors: Even if your favorite teacher or guidance counselor can’t spend much time with you, they can offer guidance and be a reference for you in the future. By starting a mentor/mentee relationship with someone who is short on time, you might be referred to someone else (that’s called networking) who has more time and can be a more stable part of your life.
- Neighbor/Family Friend: A Neighbor or Family Friend may have expressed an interest in your education and future. Don’t be afraid to contact them to let them know you’d be honored to have them as a mentor.
- Church: Even if your family doesn’t currently attend church, you likely live near a church. Members of religious organizations often benefit the community.
- Community Centers: Check local listings for the community center nearest you. Some Indianapolis area community centers that offer youth programs include the following:
|John H. Boner Community Center2236 East 10th St.||JHBCC.org(317) 633-8210|
|Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center727 N. Oriental St.||JHBCC.org/chaseneareastsidelegacycenter(317) 423-2000|
|Shepherd Community Center4107 East Washington St.||ShepherdCommunity.org(317) 375-0203|
|Indiana Youth Institute:contact for a list of mentors near you||iyi.org(800) 343-7060|
It’s common to feel intimidated if you’re not used to asking for help. Being comfortable with asking for help is a skill that will help you a lot in the future. People often lose their jobs if they make mistakes they could have avoided by asking for help. Teachers and other adults talk about how important communication skills are for your future because it is an essential part of building communication skills–and it’s as easy as asking for help!
Although most mentors at the recommended organizations have your best interest in mind, abuse (particularly sexual abuse) could occur. It’s important to recognize the most common warning signs.
Paraphrased from parentsformeganslaw.org, here are some “red flags” to make sure your mentoring relationship remains appropriate.
- If an adult wants to spend time alone with you in a non-public place.
- If an adult’s phone or email conversations are intended to be a “secret” (e.g. a conversation that you’re told not to share with your Parent or Guardian) because it is meant to be a sexually stimulating or revealing conversation. (If the adult gives you pornographic material or exposes their genitals to you, PLEASE report each behavior to Child Protective Services IMMEDIATELY!)
- If the adult insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling or holding you, even when you don’t want this affection.
- If the adult buys expensive gifts or gives you money for no reason.
- If an adult offers alcohol, drugs, or other “banned” products inappropriate for those under 18.
- If the adult frequently walks in on you in the bathroom/locker room while you are not fully dressed.
- The adult should only photograph you if they have your permission. You should also be able to let your Parent or Guardian know about this activity—if the adult wishes to keep it a secret, it could be a problem.
- If the adult frequently flatters you for your appearance or flirts with you.
Never forget—You have the RIGHT to say NO! If you’re not comfortable in a situation, say “I’m not comfortable with that.”
If you receive unwanted attention and/or you are abused, remember— IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Not all “red flags” are necessarily an indication of an intent to abuse. Let your mentor know if you’re uncomfortable. For example, if the adult is touching you too much, let them know you don’t want to be touched. If certain conversation topics make you uncomfortable, let them know how you feel. If the adult continues (or later resumes) activities that make you uncomfortable, you may need to find another mentor that will respect your boundaries. If the adult becomes defensive and angry, especially if they threaten to stop speaking to you, you’re better off without them! Most abuse begins as a violation of boundaries which should be reported.
This list may not cover all possible scenarios and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, nor does it constitute professional advice. For more information or to report sexual abuse, contact Indiana’s Child Protective Services (CPS) at (800) 800-5556. http://www.in.gov/dcs/
Career Prep Academy is a service of CrossRoads. Contact us at 317-842-8881 for more assistance with reaching your goals.