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Natural Mentors

Natural mentors are more experienced, nonparental adults who provide support and offer guidance to a specific youth from their everyday lives. Natural mentors are members of a young person’s preexisting social network and, thus, tend to be adult extended family members, family friends, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, religious congregation members, or adults from the young person’s broader community. Though some natural mentors (e.g., teachers, coaches) may have more traditionally defined roles in youths’ lives, the natural mentoring relationship extends beyond the bounds of more formally defined relationships. The natural mentor’s influence is expected to extend beyond the setting of origin to multiple realms of a young person’s life. Moreover, the natural mentoring relationship is characterized by conversations about diverse topics such as relationships, academics, personal ...

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