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Keeping Kids Out of Trouble Not Easy

There's as much science as art to keeping kids out of trouble.

So believe a throng of researchers and California's gang czar Paul Seave, the Schwarzenegger appointee who heads the governor's Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy.

Last year, Seave hired an expert to "clear away the brush" and rate the results from 63 of the most popular methods used across the nation and in Monterey County to try to steer youths from gangs, drugs and jail.

Among the methods that studies found just don't work to keep youths from committing crimes: long-revered programs such as DARE Drug Abuse Resistance and Education and standard tough-love strategies such as "boot camps" and "scared straight" interventions, some of which end with even more kids back in jail.

"People have a hard time accepting that their cherished beliefs don't hold up," said the report's author Peter Greenwood, who heads a national organization called the Association for Advancement of Evidence Based Practice.

Among those approaches Greenwood calls "proven" to work are Big Brothers-Big Sisters mentoring, middle school LifeSkills Training, a program called Functional Family Therapy, cognitive therapy and group counseling.

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