Tuesday, 01 November 2011 15:41

Dorn: Mentoring: caring adults and safe places

11:00 PM, Oct. 22, 2011 |
Jeffrey Dorn, Director of Shapes Mentoring Program in Missouri
Jeffrey Dorn
Tom had only been mentoring for a few short weeks and was already convinced that he was a failure. He felt this way because his mentee fell asleep in the car the moment he got picked up for this weekly outing. Tom assumed that his mentee, Robert, was bored with him and was really not interested in "hanging out" with him.

Upon some inquiries from program staff it was determined that Robert's sleeping was, in fact, not a result of boredom, but because he was in a place he felt safe.

Robert, age 5, was a mentee in the Shapes Mentoring Program. Shapes provides caring adult mentors to children of inmates living in southwest Missouri. Robert was one of these children. His father was in a Missouri prison, partially due to the fact that he abused his children.

The father would come home late at night. He would typically be intoxicated and he would enter Robert's room and hit him. Robert had learned that it was not safe to sleep through the night. Even though dad was no longer in the home, Robert's sleep patterns were still affected.

Why was Robert sleeping in Tom's car? Because he felt safe with Tom. He knew that Tom was there for him, to be a friend, confidant and mentor.

Throughout the United States there are approximately 2.7 million children who have a parent in prison.

Published in Family Support