A Mentorship Going the Extra Mile





Over a million American students drop out of school each year. Now that statistic is frightening for anyone, let alone an education advocate like myself. So, what can we do? There are a number of ways to decrease the current drop out rate but one particular method that has caught my attention is mentorships. Over the past decade and a half, mentoring has been on the rise in the United States, with close to a quarter of a billion dollars of federal funding devoted to mentoring programs since 2008.

But what exactly is a mentorship? A mentorship is somewhat elusive, but my broadly defined definition would state that a mentorship is a process in which communication between a child and positive adult role model is crucial and through the process a loving, guiding, and supporting relationship unfolds between the child and the role model.

One of the reasons mentoring took off in the 1990s was the publication of a large study about Big Brothers Big Sisters which showed that mentoring over the course of a year or 18 months could help more adolescents avoid negative behaviors including drug and alcohol use, and engaging in violence or disregarding school.

Mentoring programs are designed to work with children who are neglected, withdrawn, depressed or act out aggressively. Some of these mentoring programs make a connection with the child that lasts about nine to eighteen months. I cannot say with confidence that such brief intervention in a child’s life will make a significant difference; a nine to eighteen month crash course on how to deal with extreme emotions is hard enough for an adult to endure, let alone a child.… <Read More>

United States and Russia Reach Adoption Accord

In July of 2011, more than a year after an adopted child “abandonment” scandal led Russian officials to threaten suspension of adoptions of Russian children by Americans, the United States and Russia finally reached an accord that will subject Americans who adopt Russian children to heightened scrutiny. The issue spurred worldwide attention in April 2010, when 7-year old boy Artyom Savelyev (renamed by his adoptive parents as Justin Hansen) was put on a flight from the United States and landed in Moscow alone with no other explanation but a type-written note from his adoptive mother describing how she could no longer be a parent to Justin because of his severe emotional problems and violent nature.

According to statistics of the United States Embassy, Russia is one of the largest sources of adopted foreign children in the United States, with more than 50,000 adopted by American families since 1991.

Under the new agreement, the U.S. State Department will work closely with Russia’s Ministry of Education to gather periodic reports on the living conditions and psychological and physical development of the adopted Russian child.

In fact, Moscow’s government is now requiring American families to undergo four home visits by an American social worker within three years after adopting a Russian child. This will enable the adoption agency to report to Moscow on the child’s status. Under the agreement, the agency is further held responsible for tracking the child until the age of eighteen and continuing to report any instances of abuse, neglect, termination of the adoption, or adoption by another family.… <Read More>