Cure Violence

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Cure Violence stops the spread of violence by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms – resulting reductions in violence of up to 70%.
Last updated: February 2018

Cure Violence is a teaching, training, research and assessment NGO focused on a health approach to violence prevention. The Cure Violence health model is used by more than 50 communities in the U.S., as well as countries ranging from El Salvador to South Africa to Syria. Cities and organizations implementing the Cure Violence health model regularly experience reductions in violence within the first year ranging from 40-70% and greater reductions in subsequent years. We provide cities and organizations with the training and technical assistance to effectively implement the Cure Violence model. We are currently focusing our efforts on three parts of the world: the United States, Latin America, and the Middle East/North Africa.

Cure Violence is also leading a movement to treat violence as a health problem. We intend to fundamentally change the discourse on and approach to violence from the prevailing paradigm that understands violence as moral corruption or human failing that applies punitive strategies to address the issue, to one that includes an understanding and addressing of violence as a health problem – a contagious epidemic. To do so successfully, we are activating voices and resources throughout our comprehensive health system and establishing violence prevention as a health sector responsibility and imperative.

Cure Violence was founded by Gary Slutkin, M.D., former head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intervention Development Unit and Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois/Chicago School of Public Health. Cure Violence launched in West Garfield Park, one of the most violent communities in Chicago, and was quick to produce results, reducing shootings by 67% in its first year. From 2000-2008, Cure Violence (as CeaseFire Chicago) focused its activities in the United States, quickly expanding to Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, Oakland, Loiza, Puerto Rico and other sites. In 2008, Cure Violence began its first international adaptation and replication of the methodology in Basra and Sadr City, Iraq. Since then, international programs have been added in Canada (Halifax and Alberta), Colombia (Cali), El Salvador (San Salvador and San Pedro Mazawal), Honduras (San Pedro Sula), Jamaica (St. Catherine North and St. James), Kenya (Nairobi and Rift valley), Mexico (Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City), South Africa (Hanover Park), Syria (western and northern), Trinidad & Tobago (Port of Spain) and United Kingdom (London). Cure Violence has also provided training in violence prevention techniques to representatives from dozens of other countries.

Several Cure Violence program sites have been externally evaluated, demonstrating strong results in multiple sites. In June 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. referenced Cure Violence as a “rational, data-driven, evidence-based, and smart approach to crime.” The Economist termed the Cure Violence method “the approach that will come to prominence.”

Chicago was the first city to implement the Cure Violence model, and the state of Illinois is the first state to fund and implement a multi-city Cure Violence program. Cure Violence began as the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention in 1995, and implemented its first program, known as CeaseFire, in 2000 in West Garfield Park, a community with one of the highest rates of violence in Chicago. Within a year, shootings fell by 67 percent. Five more replications of the new model in Logan Square, Auburn Gresham, West Humboldt Park, Rogers Park, and Southwest averaged a 42% drop in shootings in their first year. In 2004, the work was expanded to 16 communities, and Chicago had a 25% drop in killings with a 50% drop in the CeaseFire zones. An independent evaluation sponsored by the US Department of Justice and conducted by Northwestern University concluded that CeaseFire’s intervention led to reductions in shootings of up to 70%.

The Cure Violence Health Model uses epidemic control method to reduce violence. We train carefully selected members of the community — trusted insiders — to anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts. And we engage the entire community to change behavior and norms. Cure Violence envisions a world without violence. Our mission is to reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods. Cure Violence is a unique, interdisciplinary, health approach to violence prevention. We maintain that the problem of violence is solvable, like other epidemics, when we understand that violence behaves like an infectious disease and treat violence using health disease control methods. Our approach to stopping shootings, killings and other lethal events includes detecting and interrupting the “transmission” of these potentially violent events; identifying and changing the infectivity (i.e., the thinking and behavior) of the highest potential transmitters (i.e., those most highly involved in violence); and changing community, city and region-wide norms and social expectations so that violence is no longer used in response to differing or conflicting views or interests.

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