Cross-age peer mentoring denotes an interpersonal relationship between an older, traditionally high school youth and a younger, typically, middle or elementary school–age child that focuses on fostering growth and development of the younger person. The relationship must endure and include regular, often weekly, contact over an extended period of time—long enough for a relationship of trust and mutual commitment to develop. The one-on-one attention mentees receive from mentors and the opportunities for mentors to exercise perspective taking, leadership, and social skills convey the developmental properties of cross-age peer mentoring relationships.

This form of mentoring was originally labeled as developmental mentoring, to reflect the key normative development opportunities afforded to mentors and mentees through the reciprocated exchanges of empathy, friendship, and attention. Michael Karcher, a researcher on ...

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