The Cure Violence Changing Behavior Method

Violence is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. Our program sites have been effective in identifying those who are most likely to behave violently and changing their behavior. WATCH THE VIDEO to see an example of how this program changes lives.

1. Establishing Trust

In order for this behavior change work to occur, the person being served must trust and respect the worker that is helping him. Those mostly likely to commit violence will often not interact with someone at all if they do not trust them. Being able to challenge behaviors and impart new ways of behaving to these individuals requires a deep level of trust. One of the best ways to have this sort of trust is to use workers who are from the community being served.

2. Changing Individual Behaviors

Outreach worker changing behavior

Outreach worker in Chicago

Once this trust is established, a worker can change behaviors. First, workers address all problems that the clients have – such as drug problems, lack of education, issues with anger, and help with parenting. Simultaneously, workers educate clients on the effects of violence on them and those around them – for example, talking to them about what would happen to their girlfriend or children if they went to prison or how their mother would feel if something happened to them.

Workers also teach their clients new methods of behavior, such as how to deescalate conflicts, save face in a confrontation, and stop a friend from being violent. . Workers are also trained in methods of persuasion, alternatives to violence, detection and diagnosis of violent behavior, appropriate referrals for client issues, as well as a number of other areas and learn the methods that can be used to encourage new positive behaviors such as conveying new information, teaching new skills applicable to the new behaviors, practicing, developing opportunities for positive peer reactions, and avoiding negative peer reaction.

3. Changing Group and Community Behaviors

One of the most important factors of whether someone commits violence is what we think our peers expect us to do. Aggressive norms are perpetuated in environments by norms that promote maintaining respect as essential and discourage walking away from any fight.

Worker in Iraq talking to community

Worker in Iraq talking to community

These norms prohibit an individual from allowing others to take advantage of him or “mess with him” and demands that he convey a legitimate threat to retaliate if such incidents do occur. One of the most powerful ways that a person in the street culture can gain respect and status is through violence. Further, when violence is concentrated for a long period of time in an individual community, it becomes normalized and therefore even “expected” by peers – and in fact by the whole community.

To reduce violence, it is necessary to change what is “normal” and what is acceptable and to help people to feel that it is acceptable to walk away from a fight. To create a lasting reduction in violence, communities must have expectations if peaceful conflict resolution so that it is accepted and actually takes place.

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