- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Some University of Nebraska-Lincoln students have learned valuable and sometimes disappointing lessons from the troubled youths they mentor.

The two-semester class pairs UNL students with juveniles at the Geneva or Kearney youth treatment and rehabilitation centers. The pairs get together every other week during the fall and spring semesters.

Anne Hobbs, who is director of the UNO Juvenile Justice Institute, said the goal is to provide positive role models for the juveniles and train the college students to work with troubled youths.

“These are such great experiences for students,” Hobbs told the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1mRnyFB ). Hobbs, also a University of Nebraska at Omaha professor, has been teaching the UNL juvenile mentoring class since fall 2012.

Students spend months with their mentees and expect the relationships they’ve built to blossom once the youths are released. But, said Hobbs, the younger people often cut those ties and return to taking drugs or engaging in other risky behavior.

“The addiction is so strong with these kids,” she said.

One student, Courtney Quattrocchi, said she heard much of her own story when she met her mentee. They soon began sharing their mutual like for shopping, playing basketball and getting what they want.

They had different tastes in music and other differences in behavior, Quattrocchi said, but the shared qualities and differences cemented their relationship as the girl prepared for life outside the Geneva center.

But when the young woman left the center, Quattrocchi learned she was not interested in staying in touch.

“All the goals we had made went in the trash,” Quattrocchi said, recounting her disappointment.

The girl returned to drugs and ran away from home, calling Quattrocchi while on the run.

“She felt bad for what she had done,” her former mentor said. “She’ll wake up one day.”

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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