Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada launches 100 Year celebration with Largest Mentoring Study Ever in Canada

In partnership with CAMH, study will help create a best practices roadmap for mentoring children and youth
Toronto, January 15, 2013 – Canada’s largest mentoring
organization is turning 100 and is celebrating with a year-long public
education campaign to give Canadians fresh insights into the societal
value of youth mentoring.
To mark the launch of this national effort, Big Brothers Big Sisters and
the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) are releasing the
first results of one of the largest mentoring studies ever conducted.
The five-year study, which tracks the experiences of almost 1,000
children and teenagers registered with Big Brother Big Sisters agencies
across Canada, found that those with a mentor are significantly more
confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to
display behavioural problems.
One stand out 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.
“This ground-breaking research confirms that mentoring changes the
trajectory of young lives,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC). “The findings will have a
profoundly beneficial impact on our mentoring programs.”
The study’s findings are expected to bring about significant advances in
how the agencies of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) deliver
mentoring services. Expected outcomes are more specialized pre-match
training for the child, parents and mentor; more effective match support
for all three participants to better manage expectations and earlier
detection of special needs among children and teenagers.
BBBSC believes that this landmark study’s legacy will be longer and more
successful matches and mentoring that is more closely tailored to
individual needs.
The study was conducted by a team of academics led by Dr. David DeWit, a
senior research scientist CAMH in London, Ontario, and Dr. Ellen
Lipman, a psychiatrist and Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
The research was made possible by a $1.7 million grant from the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
“We showed that the positive findings held regardless of the children’s
age, personal history, family circumstances or cultural identity,”
explained DeWit. “Over time, Big Brother Big Sisters agencies will be
able to counsel mentors on how best to engage with their ‘Little’ and
will make it easier to identify the children most likely to benefit from
having a mentor.”
Key findings:

  • 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 and Big Brother Big Sister agency practices that lead to the most
successful mentoring relationships.
Over time, Big Brother Big Sisters agencies will actually be able to
counsel mentors on how best to engage with their “Little” based on
their, age, personal history, family circumstances and cultural
identity. During the pre-match screening process, the study’s
conclusions are also expected to make it easier to identify the children
most likely to benefit from having a mentor.
“When the findings of this research are fully understood, we expect that
virtually every aspect of how we approach, design and maintain our
mentoring relationships will be impacted,” says MacDonald. “The work of
the project’s outstanding team, so ably led by Dr. DeWit and Dr. Lipman,
will benefit children and teenagers in every region of Canada for
“We recognize that the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada has
played a crucial role in the lives of many young Canadians,” says Dr.
Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of
Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. “CIHR is pleased to support
research that provides communities with information about youth mental
health and healthy development in society.”Beyond public awareness
campaigns focused on youth mentoring, BBBSC and its agencies will also
be hosting special events across Canada. These celebrations will pay
tribute to the contributions of past and present Big Brother and Big
Sister volunteers to the well-being of children and communities over the
past 100 years.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
For one hundred years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a
positive difference in the lives of Canada’s youth by developing and
implementing a wide range of mentoring programs.BBBSC volunteer mentors
teach by example the importance of giving back, of staying in school,
and of respecting family, peers and community.
BBBSC provides quality mentoring services for more than 33,000 children
and teenagers. The community-based youth mentoring organization
currently has over 25,000 volunteer mentors working at 123 agencies that
serve children in over 1,000 communities across the country. To learn
more, visit