It’s a Wrap! Cure Violence in the US in 2014

easeure Violence envisions a world without violence. Our mission is to reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods. We are guided by clear principles that include violence as a health issue, that individuals and communities can change for the better, that community partners and strategic partnerships are keys to success and that rigorous, scientific, professional work and assessment are essential to effectiveness.

As we close the door to 2014, the Cure Violence approach is currently implemented in 23 U.S. cities (more than 50 sites within those cities), eight states and eight different countries. In late 2013, we adopted a three-year strategic plan with two major strategic goals: (1) Reducing violence and (2) Shifting public thinking toward violence prevention.

Goal 1: Reducing Violence

Cure Violence expanded to 11 new US sites in 2014 including Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; San Antonio, TX; Prince George’s County, MD; and additional sites in New York including Buffalo, Rochester, Mt. Vernon, Syracuse, Staten Island, Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood within Brooklyn). The Cure Violence national training team continued their efforts to provide high-level technical assistance to Cure Violence implementing partners.

Cure Violence is also beginning to partner with more US cities in which direct technical assistance is not provided and yet similar health approaches are being used. Cure Violence program staff also assisted three major cities in expanding existing program sites – New York, Kansas City, MO and New Orleans – in 2014. In August, New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio announced that NYC would invest an additional $12.7 million dollars to expand the program, bringing the total number of sites in New York to 30. Cure Violence program and training staff are working virtually around-the-clock to assist the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene in hiring and training new staff. New York City is the first city to comprehensively adopt the Cure Violence health approach to violence prevention across all of its high risk neighborhoods.

As part of the strategy to change individual and community behavioral norms in Chicago, a new public education campaign titled “You Have Influence, Use It,” was developed. The idea behind the campaign is to foster an environment where youth feel it is OK to help their friends avoid violence and resolve conflict in a non-violent manner. The program sites will be conducting community workshops targeting the highest risk and providing training on how to help friends avoid violence, how to extract themselves from a potentially violent situation and most importantly, how to avoid situations at-risk for violence.

A fourth independent evaluation which continued to demonstrate positive program and community impacts of the Cure Violence program was conducted and released in 2014. The evaluation of two Cure Violence sites in two Chicago police districts from 2012-2013 was completed by the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention at the University of Chicago and the Institute for Health Research and Policy at University of Illinois at Chicago. The key quantitative findings included a 31% reduction in homicides and a 19% drop in shootings in the Woodlawn and Lawndale neighborhoods. Importantly, the effects of the intervention were immediate, appearing within the first month when Cure Violence workers arrived in the community, and these effects were maintained throughout the intervention period. Qualitatively, the Cure Violence approach was viewed by high-risk youth in these areas as effective in reducing violence and interrupting social isolation.

Goal 2: Shifting Public Thinking

Our second goal is to shift public thinking, policy and practice as it relates to violence, both in the U.S. and internationally. We developed an ambitious plan to change the national conversation about and in response to violence. The plan capitalizes on and accelerates the momentum sparked by the success of the dual health/law enforcement approach in key US cities such as Baltimore, New York City, Kansas City and Chicago.

Cure Violence is benefiting from a new partnership with Participant Media. Participant Media has partnered with Cure Violence to highlight the contagious nature of violence and help expand the Cure Violence health approach violence prevention message. Participant Media only produces social impact films, TV and other content including films such as LINCOLN, THE HELP, CONTAGION, CHARLIE WILSON’s WAR, and AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Their new film venture, “A MOST VIOLENT YEAR” premiered on 12/31/14. Participant Media is affiliated with Pivot TV and, its social impact partner, to assist Cure Violence in recruiting volunteers, raising funds and generating online social engagement through petitions geared to affect public policy in relation to funding and supporting a health approach to violence prevention.

Much accomplished in 2014, and much remaining to achieve the ultimate goal of a world without violence!

We’re ready!  Looking forward to a great 2015!