Cure Violence

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Cure Violence
Founded 2000
Founder Dr. Gary Slutkin
Focus Health Approach to Violence Prevention
  • University of Illinois-Chicago School of Public Health
Area served
Method Detecting & Interrupting Conflicts, Identifying & Treating High Risk Individuals and Changing Social Norms
Key people
Brent Decker, Chief Program Officer
Mission To reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods.

Cure Violence, founded by University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health Epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, M.D. and ranked one of the top twenty NGOs by the Global Journal in 2015, is a public health anti-violence program. It aims to stop the spread of violence in communities 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.


Originally developed under the name "CeaseFire" in 2000, Slutkin launched the model in West Garfield, the most violent community in Chicago at the time. CeaseFire produced a 67 percent reduction in shootings in its first year.[1] However, a three-year review by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 found that it reduced shootings from 16 percent to 34 percent and eliminated retaliatory murders resulting from increased use of public education slogans — such as “Don’t shoot. I want to grow up.” — and conflict mediation and community mobilization.

CeaseFire received additional funding from the State of Illinois in 2004 to immediately expand from 5 to 15 communities and from 20 to 80 Outreach Workers. That year, homicides declined in Chicago by 25 percent, to a total of 448, a rate of 15.5 homicides per 100,000 residents [2]

Since 2005, the organization has been providing a hospital-based violence prevention response to violently injured patients from the south and southwest side of Chicago at the Advocate Christ Medical Center. The success of the Advocate Christ program led, in 2011, to the creation of a second hospital-based violence prevention program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a level-1 trauma center that treats approximately 1,000 trauma patients annually.[3] As of March, 2016 CeaseFire Illinois operates four hospital response programs, with the third program at Cook County's John Stroger, Jr. Hospital and the fourth at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

CeaseFire was reorganized and changed its name to Cure Violence in September 2012.[4] Cure Violence now refers to the larger organization and overall health approach, while local program partner sites often operate under other names. CeaseFire Illinois now operates the Chicago program sites using the Cure Violence model. In December, 2015, Cure Violence has 23 cities implementing the Cure Violence health approach in over 50 sites in the U.S. International program partner sites are operating in Trinidad, Honduras, Mexico, South Africa, Canada and Colombia.[5][6]


Cure Violence's founder and executive director, Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist and a physician who for ten years battled infectious diseases in Africa. He says that violence directly mimics infections like tuberculosis and AIDS, thus the treatment ought to follow the regimen applied to these diseases: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.[7]

Cure Violence approaches violence in an entirely new way: as a contagious disease that can be stopped using the same health strategies employed to fight epidemics. The Cure Violence model trains and deploys outreach workers and violence interrupters to mitigate conflict on the street before it turns violent.[8] These interrupters are credible messengers, trusted members of the communities served, who use their street credibility to model and teach community members better ways of communicating with each other and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.[9]

Cure Violence follows a three-pronged health approach to violence prevention : detection/interruption of planned violent activity, behavior change of high-risk individuals, and changing community norms.[10]

The Cure Violence method was developed using World Health Organization derived strategies and has won multiple awards. It has been promoted by the Institute of Medicine, the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Department of Justice and was described in the Economist as "....the approach that will come to prominence."[11][12] The program is currently being implemented by local partners with great success throughout the world.


Original funding for CeaseFire came from contributions from federal and state grants, and from local foundations and corporations, providing a $6.2 million budget for 2005 and $9.4 million for 2006.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded CeaseFire a grant for the period 2007 to 2012 and continues to be a major funder of the Cure Violence health approach overall.[13]


In May 2008, Professor Wesley G. Skogan, an expert on crime and policing at Northwestern University, completed a three-year, independent, Department of Justice-funded report on CeaseFire, which found that the program successfully reduced shootings and killings by 41% to 73%.[14] Retaliatory shootings were reduced 100% in five of the seven communities examined in the report.[15]

In an independent evaluation of the Cure Violence model at the Baltimore partner program site commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and conducted by Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore's Safe Streets program, the Cure Violence partner site, is credited with reducing shootings and killings by up to 34-56%. Community norm changes occurred, even with non-clients and reductions spread to surrounding communities.[16]

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, advocates for such an interventionist approach to violent crime, believing the benefits of Ceasefire's intercession are many. On, Webster said, ""Violence is reciprocal. Stopping one homicide through mediation could buy you peace for months down the road."[17]

The US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance contracted with the Center for Court Innovation to evaluate the Cure Violence New York City program partner site and found the gun violence rate in the program site to be 20% lower than what it would have been had its change mirrored the average change in comparison precincts.[18]


National Sites: [6]

  • Baltimore Safe Streets in Baltimore, Maryland[17]
  • Aim 4 Peace in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Cure for Camden, Camden, New Jersey
  • CeaseFire Illinois, Chicago
  • CeaseFire New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Operation SNUG in New York City
  • Brooklyn/Crown Heights, New York City
  • Operation SNUG in New York
  • Cure Violence/NYC Mission Society, Harlem, New York City
  • 49 Strong Saving Lives, Staten island
  • Save our Streets, Bronx, New York City
  • Cure Violence, South Jamaica, New York City
  • CYO, Inc. in Oakland, California
  • Philadelphia CeaseFire
  • City of San Antonio- Stand Up SA
  • Cease Violence, Wilmington, Delaware

International Sites:[5]

  • The Chaos Theory (The Safety Box) in London, UK
  • CeaseFire Hanover Park (2 sites), in Hanover Park, Cape Town, South Africa
  • The Citizen Security Program in Trinidad & Tobago
  • Taller de Salud, Inc., Loiza Puerto Rico
  • Cristo de la Roca in San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Cure Violence plus PeaceTXT messaging to reduce election violence, Sisi Ni Amani-Kenya
  • American Islamic Congress, 3 sites in Basrah and 2 sites in Sadr City-Baghdad, Iraq
  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
  • Barrio Positivo, Honduras
  • CeaseFire Halifax, Canada

The Interrupters (2011 documentary)[edit]

The Interrupters is a film, produced in 2011 by Kartemquin Films, that documents the story of three CeaseFire outreach workers. It was directed and produced by Steve James, director of "Hoop Dreams" and also produced by Alex Kotlowitz, an author who first wrote about the organization for the New York Times Magazine in 2009.[19] The film emphasizes the notion that much of the violence on the streets results from interpersonal conflict, rather than from gang-related disputes.[19]

The film follows three interrupters—Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra. Ameena, the daughter of Jeff Fort—a major gang leader in the 1970s—spent time as a teen involved in a gang, and now takes to the streets to keep youths from doing the same.[19] Ricardo "Cobe" Williams did three stints in jail for attempted murder and drug-related charges, and Eddie Bocanegra served 14 years in jail for a murder he committed at age 17.[20]

The film premiered at 2011 Sundance.[21] It aired as a PBS Frontline broadcast in February 2012.[22]

Featured In[edit]

  • A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity; Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn[23][24]
  • Violence as a Public Health Problem: A Most Violent Year by Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Huffington Post, 12/9/2014[25]
  • Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla; David Kilcullen[26]
  • Beyond Suppression: Global Perspectives on Youth Violence; Joan Serra Hoffman, Lyndee Knox, and Robert Cohen[27]
  • Epidemiological Criminology: Theory to Practice; edited by Eve Waltermaurer, Timothy A. Akers[28]
  • “Violence Is a Contagious Disease“– by Dr. Gary Slutkin[29]
  • “Contagion of Violence“ – 2012 Institute of Medicine report[30]
  • “Cure Violence: A Disease Control Approach to Reduce Violence and Change Behavior” – by Charles Ransford, Candice Kane, and Gary Slutkin[31]


  1. ^ Chamberlin, Jamie (June 2011). "Cease fire". Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association. 
  2. ^ "Biography of Tio Hardiman". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  3. ^ "Press release: Northwestern Memorial Hospital Joins National Anti-Violence Strategy". Northwestern Memorial Hospital. February 8, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  4. ^ Melanie Eversley (September 13, 2012). "CeaseFire changes name to CureViolence". USA Today. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Kotlowitz, Alex (May 4, 2008). "Blocking the Transmission of Violence". New York Times. 
  8. ^ "CeaseFire: The Campaign to Stop the Shooting". DeSantis Breindel YouTube. 
  9. ^ McCracken, Kristin (August 3, 2011). "Violence, Interrupted: Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz on The Interrupters". Huffington Post. 
  10. ^ Khan, Sheema (July 21, 2011). "Why we need a CeaseFire". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "CeaseFire: Chicago Violence Prevention Program". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
  14. ^ Wesley G. Skogan; Susan M. Hartnett; Natalie Bump; Jill Dubois (May 2008). "Executive Summary: Evaluation of CeaseFire-Chicago" (PDF). 
  15. ^ Nancy Ritter. "CeaseFire: A Public Health Approach to Reduce Shootings and Killings".  External link in |journal= (help)
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b McLaughlin, Eliott C. (September 28, 2011). "Interrupting the cycle of teen violence". CNN. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c Lee, Amy (August 4, 2011). "'The Interrupters': Documentary Deals With Violence On The Streets Of Chicago". Huffington Post. 
  20. ^ Binlot, Ann (August 4, 2011). "Violence, Redeemed: "The Interrupters" Follows Reformed Felons Driven Back to Crime — to Stop It". ArtInfo. 
  21. ^ Savage, Sophia (March 28, 2011). "Sundance Hit Steve James Doc The Interrupters Lands Distributor". IndieWire. 
  22. ^ Frontline Web site with access to the documentary
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External links[edit]