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August 22, 2014, 11:34 pm

D.A. supports mentoring program

District Attorney Seth Williams announced this week that his office is joining with the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association to help Big Brothers and Big Sisters recruit 100 mentors for the state’s at-risk youth — and make a difference in their lives.

Mentor relationships have long played a vital role in changing perspectives and building strong communities, Williams said.

“In Philadelphia, we have seen what happens when children have positive role models in their lives, and we’ve seen what happens when they don’t,” he said. “My colleagues throughout Pennsylvania can tell you the same thing, which is why we are committed to do our part through this recruitment effort.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is America’s largest mentoring network. It partners willing adults with children with the goal of helping them to achieve educational success, avoid risky behavior and broaden their aspirations. The recruitment effort is part of 100 Years, 100 Mentors, a special partnership between the PDAA and Pennsylvania Big Brothers Big Sisters as part of the observances of the 100th anniversary of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. The goal is to recruit 100 new mentors statewide from within the ranks of district attorney offices and partners in the community. The organization was founded in part by an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia more than 90 years ago.

“As district attorneys, our first responsibility is to prosecute criminals, but we also believe in doing our part to prevent crime from happening in the first place,” said Francis Schultz, PDAA president and Crawford County District Attorney. “Mentoring relationships are proven to make a difference, and as district attorneys we are hoping to make a difference in our communities by helping to recruit more mentors.”

Independent research has shown that youth in the Big Brother Big Sisters program are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol, and 52 percent less likely to skip school.

“Mentoring has a proven track record of making a difference in children’s lives,” said Ted Quali, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Mentoring changes the trajectory of a young person’s life away from the dangerous behaviors that can lead them down an unfortunate path in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. No group understands this more than District Attorneys and the PDAA, and we are thrilled to partner with them.”