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People wonder if she's scared, taking her children to school in the Murphy district. "But I'm very comfortable with the school," Acosta says.
She has reason to be.
As a child, she attended what was then Garcia School. "I came from a troubled family that bounced me around in foster care," she says. "Then I got into Mrs. Hobein's special education class and we bonded."
Pat Hobein, now a teacher at Kuban, legally adopted Acosta.
Acosta's is a one-in-a-million tale. Yet it underscores what many gang-prevention specialists and educators say the troubled kids need, both in school and out, to avoid falling victim to the violence in the area.
"Basically, our kids need good, strong relationships," says Donofrio. "You can't disconnect them from their families. There probably isn't an after-school program in the country that can take the place of a long-lasting, nurturing family."
That's the problem in Murphy and elsewhere. "Once the school doors and programs close," says Donofrio, "these kids still have to go home."
See previous stories in the Hard Core series HERE
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