If you’re one of those individuals trying your best to build the social capital of your community, empower the young boys and girls who live in your neighborhood by the way of mentoring, the above question often comes to mind. Am I making a difference? Are my efforts actually changing the lives of these kids that I work with every Saturday or Sunday morning? 


The answer is a resounding yes. New study out this week actually says that mentoring that occurs in the community does make a difference. And here is why.


In a new study out in the Journal of School Health, researchers crunched the numbers of about 65,000 kids from around United States. They analyzed the chances of repeating a grade in school, engaging actively in school activities, and bullying of other children among boys and girls who have mentors in their community, also known as “informal mentors.”


After taking into consideration the differences among all the children, they found that overall, 5.4% of US school‐aged children without a mentor perpetrated bullying against other children; 11.4% repeated more than one grade in school; and 23.0% had low school engagement.


They further found out that children without mentors had 2.1 and 1.3 times higher odds or chances, respectively, of bullying other children and low school engagement than those with mentors. Proportion of children who bullied others or repeated grades was higher among minority children.


So, when next you’re sitting down there with your bullhorn yelling out to the kids you love, in the soccer field, in the church, or at the community center, know that your efforts are not in vain. Your efforts do matter. And big time too.


“As individuals who are particularly interested in our communities, this study was very special to us,” says Dr. Romuladus Azuine, the Lead author of the study. “When we set out to investigate this study, we did not really know what we were going to find. And we were pleasantly surprised that we can support all the hard work going on in our communities using hard evidence and data,” he said.


Dr. Azuine who is the Editor-in-Chief of the open-access International Journal of Maternal and Child Health and AIDS in Washington, DC, USA, adds that “these exciting numbers are a toast to all those unsong heroes in our communities around the world making a difference in the lives of our little boys and girls.”