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Reclaiming our 'Toughest' Youth

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In practice settings ranging from children's mental health to child welfare, and from private group homes to family intervention programs, youth workers are encouraged to have relationships with youth, but beyond that, they are trained to follow the teachings and scientific rationales of cognitive therapy, pharmacological interventions, and even behaviourial therapy buttressed by external controls and token economies. Equally compelling, in what surely constitutes one of the great irritants to the quasi-religious adherence of contemporary positivist truth, is the fact that youth who survive the system keep reporting the same thing: the most valuable memory they carry with them, the thing worth smiling about in their recollection and retelling of their often horrifying experiences, is their relationship with a particular care giver, a staff member in a group home, a worker who helped them through a tough scenario (OACAS, 2006; Tweedle, 2005).

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