I met Alex when attending the birthday party of my little brother of the Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) program. Alex had the shortest attention span of any child I ever met. A handsome boy of nine years old, he was still in the third grade and struggled to focus more than 10 seconds. I found out later his father was in prison, his mother was a drug user and he had bounced from one foster home to the next. He was spending the night at my friend’s house because a distant relative was taking care of him and, from what the family said, didn’t always treat him well. Given his behavior, it was easy to see why.
Alex is in dire need of a strong male figure in his life. Granted, an adult male probably would not change his personality, but may improve his behavior. Thinking about his future, I had a sinking feeling and wished I had the time and patience to devote to Alex. Yes, he would be disruptive, hard to control and ungrateful, to name a few. However, the right Big Brother might keep him out of prison and help him find a job where he may perhaps make a decent living.
There were other boys at the party with fewer problems than Alex, but still in need of help. Living in families with absentee fathers they simply need a male role model in their lives for guidance, friendship and structure.
The facts of the BBBS are clear. Boys and girls involved in the program are:
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip a class
- 33% less likely to hit someone
For those of us who have already raised a family, the program is a great way to go from, success to significance. For those who have yet to have a family, it’s a great way to learn about kids and experience the joys of positively influencing a child’s life. If every needy child in America found a caring mentor; this would be a different country.