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Stopping Gun Violence, One Youth at a Time []


In the agricultural swath of coastal California known as the Salinas Valley, for decades, youth violence has topped the area’s list of most pressing problems.

A dozen years ago, the region led the state in youth homicides per capita.

Most years, violence in Monterey County is fueled almost entirely by long-running warfare between rival rural gangs β€” a deeply entrenched, multigenerational tragedy that to many here has long seemed impossible to overcome. When the rest of the nation saw steady drops in both violent and juvenile crime in the decades since the 1960s, Salinas did not.

But in 2009, there was reason to hope. Ceasefire, a promising intervention first developed in Boston in the 1990s, was coming to town. With buy-in from the mayor and community leaders, the program was up and running by January 2010.

The results were almost immediate. In a city where shots were fired at another human being an average of two to three times a week, the streets were suddenly, oddly silent.

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