Cure Violence, a globally-recognized program that takes a public health approach to reducing violence, and which has been part of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health for more than 20 years, will become an independent non-governmental organization. Currently, Cure Violence is the #9 NGO in the world according to NGO Advisor, and the #1 NGO with a focus on addressing violence.
The new NGO will focus on training staff in cities around the world to implement the program.
“Cure Violence is an example of an organization that has truly embodied how powerful basic, public health concepts can be,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, dean of the UIC School of Public Health. “Since Cure Violence has come on the scene, the idea that violence spreads like a disease has become a widely-accepted and transformative idea that has saved lives and reduced suffering associated with violence in communities across the globe. We are very proud to have been a part of this innovative organization and are thrilled that it will be able to reach more people with its new model.”
Cities around the world have turned to the Cure Violence model to prevent violence — from sectarian violence in Iraq to community violence in Honduras, to prison violence in England. The Cure Violence approach has been implemented in more than 100 communities across 16 countries. Programs have been established in communities in Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala and throughout Latin America, as well as in the Middle East, including Syria.
“Over the last three years, we have been working to put the pieces in place to establish a new NGO that would take on the work and projects currently being handled by Cure Violence at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health,” said Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder of Cure Violence and professor of epidemiology and global health in the UIC School of Public Health. “The UIC School of Public Health has been a partner with Cure Violence for more than two decades and we are all proud that our work together has led to this new approach to addressing violence globally. The primary purpose of establishing this new NGO is to enable a greater impact through expanding new training and monitoring systems to be more effective at reducing violence globally through epidemic control measures.”
The process to become a new NGO is expected to be finalized by fall 2019.
The new NGO will be able to respond to requests for its training, education, and policy and system development expertise to communities, cities and countries.
“Our focus will be much more on guiding and training and less on implementation,” said Slutkin.
Cure Violence was founded by Slutkin in 1995 and uses disease-control and behavior-change methods to stop the spread of violence in communities around the world by detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms — resulting in reductions in violence of up to 70 percent in communities where Cure Violence programs are active.
The Cure Violence approach has been proven effective by multiple studies for reducing street and youth violence, and is being used to tackle other issues, including cartel, tribal, election, prison, school, and ideologically-inspired violence. The group is also routinely consulted on mass shootings, domestic violence and violence in active conflict zones.
Recent evaluations have consistently found an immediate and often dramatic reduction in violence in communities implementing Cure Violence-based programs. Tellingly, these same communities have an immediate and often dramatic increase in violence in these same communities when programs shrink or shut down, most often due to funding cuts.
The first Cure Violence program, formerly known as CeaseFire, was launched in West Garfield Park, one of the most violent communities in Chicago, and was quick to produce results, reducing shootings by 67 percent in its first year. From 2000 to 2008, Cure Violence focused its activities in the United States, quickly expanding to Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, Kansas City, and other sites.
The 2011 Sundance Award-winning film, The Interrupters, introduced the concept that violence spreads like a contagious disease to a global public audience. The idea has since become firmly embedded in how health care, social workers and community leaders and activists view and manage violence in their communities.
In 2008, Cure Violence began its first international adaptation and replication of the methodology in Basra and Sadr City, Iraq. Soon after, international programs based on the Cure Violence model were launched in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Lebanon, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Syria, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Kingdom and in the West Bank.
The new NGO will initially focus on expanding its work in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. “There are many communities in these regions where we have had successes or are beginning to build partnerships and infrastructure, and where more work is being requested,” said Slutkin. “We are very much looking forward to this new chapter, and are so appreciative of the support we’ve received from UIC both in the past and as we move into our next phase.”