I used to work for a teen center and we offered crisis intervention services for at risk youth. The teen center was actually funded by a family crisis intervention service, and almost instantly became a success. The center offered teens a safe place to hang out that was free of the normal peer pressures related to drugs, sex, and violence.
Initially, the teen center brought a lot of criticism from the older and more conservative populations because they saw the center as a place where the community’s worst kids were allowed to hang out. The police were not very receptive of the center, even though we maintained a very close and open relationship with the department.
After the first year, this began to change. There were fewer arrests for fighting and drugs. There were fewer young people loitering in places they were not supposed to. The children who attended the center were also more engaged in regular community service and civic activities. It has been four years since I started at the center, and some of the original students are even volunteering at the center, inspiring a second generation to find their potential.