Providing Alternatives to Violence

Cure Violence engages communities to work with people at high risk of being involved in violence, provides on-the-spot guidance, and works to change behavioral patterns.

Cure Violence: A public health approach to public safety

Cure Violence Model is a public health approach to violence prevention that understands violence as a learned behavior that can be prevented using disease control methods. The model prevents violence through a three-prong approach:

1)Interrupt transmission

2)Identify and change the thinking of highest potential transmitters

3)Change group norms

Interrupt transmission

The Cure Violence model deploys violence interrupters who use a specific method to locate potentially lethal, ongoing conflicts and respond with a variety of conflict mediation techniques both to prevent imminent violence and to change the norms around the need to use violence. Cure Violence hires culturally appropriate workers who live in the community, are known to high-risk people, and have possibly even been gang members or spent time in prison, but have made a change in their lives and turned away from crime. Interrupters receive specific training on a method for detecting potential shooting events, mediating conflicts, and keeping safe in these dangerous situations.

Identify and change the thinking of highest potential transmitters

Cure Violence employs a strong outreach component to change the norms and behavior of high-risk clients. Outreach workers act as mentors to a caseload of participants, seeing each client multiple times per week, conveying a message of rejecting the use of violence, and assisting them to obtain needed services such as job training and drug abuse counseling. Outreach workers are also available to their clients during critical moments – when a client needs someone to help him avoid a relapse into criminal and violent behavior. The participants of the program are of highest risk for being a victim or perpetrator of a shooting in the near future, as determined by a list of risk factors specific to the community. In order to have access and credibility among this population, Cure Violence employs culturally appropriate workers, similar to the indigenous workers used in other public health models.

Change group norms

In order to have lasting change, the norms in the community, which accept and encourage violence, must change. At the heart of Cure Violence’s effort at community norm change is the idea that the norms can be changed if multiple messengers of the same new norms are consistently and abundantly heard. Cure Violence uses a public education campaign, community events, community responses to every shooting, and community mobilization to change group and community norms related to the use of firearms.

Three additional elements are essential for proper implementation. First, with all of these components, data and monitoring are used to measure and provide constant feedback to the system. Second, extensive training of workers is necessary to ensure that they can properly carry out their duties. This includes an initial training before they are sent out on the streets, follow up trainings every few months, and regular meetings in which techniques for effective work are reviewed. Third, the program implements a partnership with local hospitals so that workers are notified immediately of gunshot wound victims admitted to emergency rooms. These notifications enable workers to respond quickly, often at the hospital, to prevent retaliations.

Success Stories

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Cure Violence has made an impact in communities in several cities. See examples of how our approach has reduced violence and helped transform lives.


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