Fidelity to the Cure Violence (CeaseFire) Model: Why Picking and Choosing Doesn’t Work

Fidelity to the Cure Violence (CeaseFire) Model: Why Picking and Choosing Doesn’t Work

Cure Violence welcomes healthy debate about what works and what doesn’t in violence prevention. These discussions help us to refine the model, improve our method, and focus our efforts. While different violence-prevention organizations may have different tactics we can all agree that the most important thing is the goal of stopping shootings and killings. Violence is too serious for anyone in this field to think otherwise.

We have been fortunate to have two rigorous evaluations of our program – one by the Department of Justice and one by Johns Hopkins University.  This research shows that when our model is adapted correctly and followed with fidelity (as it has been in Chicago and Baltimore) we make a real impact stopping violence.

Conversely, one of the other important things we’ve learned over the years is when our model is not replicated fully we see mixed results. Those mixed results have led some to question the effectiveness of our model.

In our many years of doing this work, we have been visited by representatives from more than 100 cities and they are usually very excited about our approach to reducing violence. For one reason or another, some cities decide against or cannot fully adapt the model. Instead, they pick and choose parts of the model to incorporate into their work creating a hybrid of many violence reduction efforts that can lead to disappointing results.

The Cure Violence model is more than just an approach to violence: it’s a finely-tuned, data-driven, scientific model. In cities committed to replicating our model correctly, we offer ongoing training and technical support because that’s what it takes to get results. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that cities not following model do not see the same results as Chicago and Baltimore.

We need to conduct further research on what makes Cure Violence successful so we can continue to improve and refine the model; we have high standards for ourselves and others working on this issue. But we do a disservice to our shared goal and the seriousness of violence when we evaluate the merits of any violence prevention strategy on programs that pick and choose. The stakes are simply too high.

To assist researchers in the future in determining whether a program is implementing a Cure Violence model, below is a table that outlines the essential elements of the Cure Violence Model.  Programs that do not implement any of these elements should not be considered to be implementing a Cure Violence strategy.  (Newark and Pittsburgh, for example, did not fully implement any of these elements and partially implemented only 3 of the 9 elements of the model)


Essential elements of the Cure Violence/ CeaseFire Public Health Model

Component Essential Elements
Interrupt transmission
  • Culturally appropriate workers
  • Method for identification of conflicts
  • Effective mediation techniques
Identify and change the thinking of the highest potential transmitters
  • Culturally appropriate workers
  • Caseload of high risk program participants
  • Work toward behavior and norm change
Change group norms
  • Responses to shootings
  • Public education
  • Focus on community norm change