After a five-year effort, Franklin County, Pa., has its own chapter of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. It's a development local citizens should applaud, because what this group does can have a profound and positive effect on young people's lives.
That's not just pie-in-the-sky happy talk. Several years ago, the organization's methods were the subject of an in-depth study by Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia organization that studies public policy.
The PPV study looked at 959 youngsters aged 10 to 16 who applied to the program in 1992 and 1993. Half the group was matched up with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The rest were on a list, waiting for a match.
The difference between those children who were matched up with adult mentors and those who weren't was dramatic. Just one year with a Big Brother or Big Sister cut a child's chance of trying drugs early by 46 percent, trimmed school absenteeism by 52 percent and reduced violent behavior by 33 percent.