Cure Violence (CeaseFire Chicago)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Gang and/or related criminal activities; Social/economic disadvantage

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Nova Scotia

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

Originally developed under the name CeaseFire Chicago in 2000, Cure ViolenceFootnote1 stops the spread of violence in communities by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest-risk individuals, and changing social norms. Cure Violence is a violence prevention program that works with community, city, state, and federal partners to reduce homicides and shootings in specific communities with violence problems. It focuses on affecting risky activities by a small number of carefully selected members of the community – those with a high chance of either being shot or being a shooter in the immediate future. This program prevents violence through a three-pronged approach: detection and interruption; behaviour change; and changing community norms.

The program is centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; job employment; leadership and youth development; skills training; truancy prevention; gang prevention; and violence prevention.


The main goals of Cure Violence are to:

  • Reduce all types of violence (including gang violence) by working with the government and the community;
  • Increase the perceived risks and costs of involvement in violence among high-risk youth; and,
  • Create effective prevention programs that can be incorporated into violence prevention programs in the city or community.


The appropriate clientele for Cure Violence is youth between the ages of 16 and 25 who live in communities with high levels of violence. Appropriate clientele also includes young offenders, children exposed to violence, gang members, and high-risk offenders.

Participants are referred through community members or concerned citizens. First, someone from the community needs to set up and champion the cause. Whoever gets the process started will also have to get the support and participation of key stakeholders in the community including local politicians, community organizations, police, and others. Once this takes place, the Cure Violence team can help guide the community in implementing the program.

To participate, youth are assessed against a list of criteria for inclusion. Youth must meet at least four of these criteria. Generally, participants must have been members of a gang, have been in prison, have been a victim of a shooting, and have been involved in the sale of drugs on the street. Participants must also have a history of arrest.

Core Components

Cure Violence consists of:

  • Outreach workers who work directly with gangs, gang members, and troubled youth, providing direct services and mediating disputes before they become violent. They mentor and counsel youth, assess their needs, connect them with a broad range of services (i.e., general educational development programs, anger-management counselling, and drug or alcohol treatment), and help them find child care or a job;
  • Violence interrupters who mediate gang/neighbourhood disputes. They work the street at night, talk to gang leaders, distraught friends and relatives of recent shooting victims, and others who are in a position to initiate or sustain cycles of violence, with the goal of establishing a rapport with gang leaders and other at-risk youth; and
  • Community mobilization, which is promoted through community-level activism and public education and includes activities such as media campaigns, rallies, protests, and town hall meetings. Local clergy and community groups participate in marches, rallies, and prayer vigils focused on reinforcing the unacceptability of violence in the community. Educational materials designed to change norms about violence and enhance knowledge of the risks of engaging in violence are also distributed.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must provide a number of services that can assist implementation sites achieve their objectives. More specifically, lead organizations must provide facilitators with site assistance, which involves group meetings for program staff as well as community meetings. They must also work with community partners to define program goals and solve problems. These goals and problems are then required to be documented and collected by the program evaluation team for analysis.
  • Partnerships: Organizations should collaborate with various residents, businesses, and organizations in order to promote safer communities. Organizations that implement Cure Violence are also encouraged to work with representatives from faith-based organizations so that they can provide support for youth through resources like safe havens. Organizations are also encouraged to partner with local police services.
  • Training and technical assistance: Cure Violence provides regular training sessions for staff to enhance their knowledge of the program. This will help workers make appropriate decisions when they encounter situations with community members or organizations.
  • Risk assessment tools: For information about risk assessment tools used by various adaptations of Cure Violence, consult the specific program descriptive sheets.
  • Materials & resources: Training materials are provided by Cure Violence during training sessions with staff or program facilitators.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Promising (one study)
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

In total, since 2013, 1 organization has been supported by Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy to implement Cure Violence.

For more information about this local adaptation, refer to the program descriptive sheet.

  • Ceasefire in the HRM – A Nova Scotian Approach (Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Justice Crime Prevention Unit, Public Safety and Security Division, Nova Scotia Department of Justice) (Nova Scotia) (2013-2018) (process and outcome evaluation completed)

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

For main findings pertaining to particular adaptations of Cure Violence, consult the specific program descriptive sheets.

Cost Information

For the cost information pertaining to particular adaptations of Cure Violence, consult the specific program descriptive sheets.


For references pertaining to particular adaptations of Cure Violence, consult the specific program descriptive sheets.

For more information on this program, contact:

Cure Violence
Gary Slutkin, MD, Founder & CEO
1603 West Taylor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60612
Telephone: 1-866-862-3273

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-21
Record Updated On - 2021-05-14
  1. 1

    Cure Violence allows for some flexibility in the way it is implemented and adapted to fit local needs, resources and specific crime issues. Indeed, Cure Violence is not a “one size fits all” nor a manualized program; rather it should be considered as a general crime prevention approach. For this reason, Cure Violence is briefly described here. To obtain detailed information on how Cure Violence has been adapted and implemented in local Canadian communities, please refer to the specific program descriptions listed herein. 

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