According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun violence is the leading cause of death for young black males, ages 15 to 24. It is an epidemic that disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color at an alarming rate. The neighborhoods southwest of downtown Atlanta, known as Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) continue to experience a disproportionate burden of violence. Its direct effect on investment, civic participation and community development are vast. Furthermore, many of the residents of these neighborhoods suffer the direct effects of cumulative trauma, as well as, the direct effects of historical traumas. There has also been a a disturbing increase in gun violence, including homicides, in the following NPU-V neighborhoods: Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, Adair Park and Capitol Gateway.
Gun violence in NPU-V remains some of the highest in the entire city. To address this gun violence, the Cure Violence model was chosen as the evidenced-based intervention.
Cure Violence envisions a world without violence. Cure Violence is guided by a clear understanding that violence is a health issue, and that individuals and communities can change for the better, that community partners and strategic partnerships are keys to success and that rigorous, scientific, professional ways of working are essential for effectiveness. We want to change the mindset of everyone away from, so-called “bad” people and toward understanding violent behavior as people with health problems. If we can convince more people to properly understand violence as a disease, then we can treat it accordingly by stopping the epidemic, reversing it and curing it. In short, the mission of Cure Violence is to reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods and that mission took off in 2000.
Cure Violence began (as CeaseFire Chicago) in 2000 with the goal of reducing shootings and homicides in Chicago. From 2000-2008, Cure Violence (then CeaseFire Chicago) focused its activities in the United States, starting in Chicago but quickly expanding to Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, Oakland, Puerto Rico and other sites. In 2008, Cure Violence began its first international adaptation and, international programs have been added in Iraq, South Africa United Kingdom, Kenya, Honduras and Colombia .
Cure Violence employs street and hospital level intervention techniques based on a public health approach. Cure Violence works by interrupting the transmission of retaliatory violence through mediation and conflict resolution techniques, facilitating behavior change by individuals identified as high-risk for committing violence through connections to resources and ongoing support, and organizing community members to change social norms towards a non-violent culture.
Cure Violence does the incredible work through employing Credible messengers. Credible messengers are people that are influential with the individuals at highest risk of committing shootings. They are able to build trusting relationships with the drivers of violence in a community, due to their own past experiences on the street.