The Cure for an Age-Old Disease


Cure ViolenceBy Stephanie Jackson-Ali

Foundation Beyond Belief has long been looking to feature a beneficiary that works to combat violence in all of its forms. This quarter, we’ve hit on an organization that not only works to prevent violence, but has created an innovative approach to fighting violence in our cities that asks the question:

What if we treated violence like an infectious disease?

Cure Violence, our current Human Rights beneficiary, works under just this assumption. Violence, in any form, is treated like any disease—it begins with someone or a small group that is more likely to create an event, and therefore more likely to spread violence throughout a community. Violence spreads through retaliation or from younger generations mimicking behavior they are seeing.

Cure Violence violence reductionCure Violence aims to prevent violence from transmitting from person to person, like any disease, and this is how the group gained its initial fame. Readers may remember the film The Interrupters from 2011, the multi-award-nominated documentary about a group of former gang members in Chicago who would literally put themselves in between warring factions in some of the most dangerous streets the city had to offer.

This is the first step in the Cure Violence process—to interrupt the spread of violence, often physically. Those with the most credibility, those who have themselves come from the same neighborhoods and circumstances, stand in to stop the violence from happening in that one instance and have a teaching moment, right there on the street.

But how does that stop the spread? No interrupter, no matter how dedicated, can be at every incident.
The real key to the Cure Violence system is treating the disease—not just identifying the cause. The goal is to change the social norms, the conditions in the neighborhood that lead that person, and those around them, to act out.

With the help of those same interrupters, who themselves have changed their direction, these identified high-risk individuals are assisted with finding a GED program, job and internship placements, and risk-reduction plans.
And the system works. This strategy has been directly linked to reductions in shootings and killings of 16%-34%.

Read their success stories online. This author’s favorite is the story of a former Blood Nation member who became a leader in a community that was once off limits to his group and that saw 223 shootings in a few years. After some time working in the community to help empower those within it to stop the spread of violence, the same community saw only two murders in 2012.

Learn more about Cure Violence on their website, or follow them on Facebook and YouTube.