News & Stories

BBBS National Research

May 6, 2013

The National Research Study: January 15, 2013 Release

Canada’s first national youth mentoring research project is one of the largest mentoring studies ever conducted anywhere. The scope of this ground-breaking study is nationally and regionally representative. The five-year research project tracks the experience of almost 1,000 children and teenagers registered with Big Brother Big Sister agencies.

Over time, the study’s in-depth findings will identify the processes that actually lead to the most positive outcomes of mentoring based on gender, age, family situation, personal situation and cultural identity. This means that in the months and years ahead Big Brothers Big Sisters will be able to tailor mentoring more closely to the individual needs of children and teenagers.

The goals of mentoring include:

• To provide children and youth the skills and resiliency with which to achieve personal success;

• To provide increased accountability to peers, family and community;

• To increase high school completion and engagement in post-secondary education and/or training in order to create career competitiveness;

• To create a sense of belonging and purpose in order to motivate and inspire success.

We know that children and youth with personal resiliency, strength of character and confidence, an understanding of the world around them and the opportunities available, and a solid sense of belonging, do better in every aspect of their lives. Mentoring strives to assist in the development of these characteristics.

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The research confirmed that those children in the study with a mentor are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to develop behavioural problems.

One standout finding is that girls in the study with a Big Sister were four times less likely to bully, fight, lie, or express anger than girls without a mentor.

The study also found:

• Girls with a Big Sister are two and a half times more likely than girls without a mentor to be confident in their ability to be successful at school.

• Boys with a Big Brother are three times less likely than boys without a mentor to suffer peer pressure related anxiety, such as worrying about what other children think or say about them.

• Mentored boys are two times more likely to believe that school is fun and that doing well academically is important.

• Mentored boys are also two times less likely than non-mentored boys to develop negative conducts like bullying, fighting, lying, cheating, losing their temper or expressing anger.

The breadth and detail of this study is such that these current findings are just a small sample of what will be released in the months and years to come. Each new release of findings will further illuminate the extent to which mentored children do better, why mentored children do better, for whom mentoring achieves the greatest benefit and Big Brother Big Sister agency practices that lead to the most successful mentoring relationships.


Each child and teenager in the study group was interviewed at six month intervals. Researchers also discussed the child or teenager’s situation with their parents and their Big Brother or Big Sister. By comparing and contrasting the actions, perceptions and attitudes of the three partners in the mentoring relationship, researchers were able to identify the processes that actually contributed to achieving positive outcomes.

The study was conducted by a team of academics led by Dr. David DeWit, a senior research scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Health in London, Ontario, and Dr. Ellen Lipman, a psychiatrist and Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.

The work of this outstanding research team, so ably led by Dr. DeWit and Dr. Lipman, will benefit Canadian children and teenagers for generations to come. This project was made possible through a $1.7 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.