Cure Violence presents on Social Norm Change in Davos

bvlAt an event on Saturday January, 26 organized by The Bernard van Leer Foundation in Davos, Switzerland, twenty global leaders including Geraldine Chin Moody, board member of UN Women Australia, Vidar Jorgensen, president of Grameen America, and Princess Mabel van Oranje, founding CEO of The Elders, gathered to demonstrate their resolve to end violence in the lives of young children.

This meeting comes at an opportune moment amidst a massive public response to events like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the protests all over India to stop violence against women and girls.  What is unique about this moment in history is that we – as a global community – know more than ever about how to prevent these kinds of events and improve the lives of up to 1.5 billion children who are exposed to violence every year (United Nations 2006).

Ending violence is not easy, but progress can be achieved more quickly than most people think.  The four strategies below have demonstrated it is possible to cut levels of different forms of violence in half in less than 2 years.

  • Challenging social norms. Cure Violence, a national NGO operating in 15 cities, prevents community violence by mobilizing communities to challenge social norms that associate violence with respect, and by training ‘interrupters’ to detect and stop violent events. An evaluation published last year, by the New York Academy of Medicine, found that in Baltimore Cure Violence has reduced homicides by 56% in less than two years.
  • Supporting parents. Nurse Family Partnership, an evidence-based, community health program, prevents child maltreatment by providing first-time, low-income mothers with structured home visits from a trained nurse. Nurse Family Partnership has been shown to reduce child maltreatment in the first two years of life by up to 48%.
  • Empowering women. IMAGE (South Africa) prevents violence against women by providing women with microfinance and training, giving them the financial leverage and confidence to confront their partners. IMAGE has reduced intimate partner violence by 55% in less than two years according to research published in the Lancet by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Gender Violence & Health Centre.
  • Reducing harmful use of alcohol. In Brazil’s Diadema municipality, prohibiting sales of alcohol between 11pm and 6am reduced assaults against women by 48% and homicides by 56% according to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Everyday, violence arrests the development of young children from all countries, rich and poor.  Taking action to reduce the levels of violence this is a collective responsibility and is a realistic aspiration” said Michael Feigelson, a child and youth advocate for the last 13 years who currently serves as the Programme Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation. “There are solutions to prevent this but we are not using them.  Measures like gun control help, but to address the roots of the problem we also have to tackle culture if we want young children to grow up without violence.”

 “One of the most important challenges for preventing violence is to engage more men in efforts to stop violence against women.  A culture where boys are taught violence from a very young age is a culture that results in events like the brutal attack on a bus of a young student in New Delhi”, said Mallika Dutt, founder of New Delhi- and New York-based global human rights organization Breakthrough3.  “If we challenge violence in small, everyday ways in our homes, communities, work places, religious communities, we can begin to shift the culture of violence.  This needs to start at home in the behaviours that we model for young children in our societies.”

“President Obama has given 2013 an excellent start by raising the issue of violence on the national and international agenda,” said Dr. Gary Slutkin, Founder and Executive Director of Cure Violence.  “Now that we have effective strategies for reducing violence in children’s lives, we need new partners to both add to the strategies and expand the work. No child should have to experience violence in his or her life. Let’s join our efforts and stop it.”