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First Do No Harm: Ethical Principles for Youth Mentoring Relationships

by Jean Rhodes, Belle Liang, Renée Spencer
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Abstract

Mentoring programs pair youth who are perceived to be at risk for poor outcomes with volunteers who are trained to provide support. Although mentoring has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, the ethical challenges inherent in relationship-based interventions have been given insufficient attention among researchers and practitioners. Rarely acknowledged is the potential for harm that poorly imple-mented mentoring relationships can render. To redress this problem, a set of ethical principles for volunteer mentors is presented. They are derived, in part, from the American Psychological Association's (2002) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct as well as ethical codes that have been formulated to guide other paraprofessionals and volunteers in community settings. A description of these principles and their application to youth mentoring is provided.

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