Ceasefire in the HRM – A Nova Scotian Approach
Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Visible minority/ethnic group
Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Gang and/or related criminal activities
Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting
Location: Nova Scotia
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention
In response to the escalation of gang-related violence in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, in partnership with the HRM Public Safety Office, implemented Ceasefire in the HRM - A Nova Scotian Approach, which is based on the Cure ViolenceFootnote1 approach (formerly known as the CeaseFire Chicago approach).
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 the Ceasefire in the HRM program are to:
- Prevent young people from participating in gang activity and/or gun-related violent crime;
- Have gang-involved youth exit from the gang lifestyle; and
- Increase the collaboration between organizations and community members for the purpose of gang reduction.
The appropriate clientele for the Ceasefire in the HRM program is youth between the ages of 16 and 25 who are involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in gang activity. Specific Nova Scotian and Africentric innovations are included in the Ceasefire program.
Participants are referred to the program by police services, schools, and other community-based organizations. To participate in the program, youth must display high levels of risk at intake.
The Ceasefire in the HRM program consists of:
- Violence interpretation/conflict resolution: Violence Interrupters (VIs) build relationships at the street level and engage in mediation when detection of violence escalation or a conflict has been made. They also participate in anti-violence events, are present where youth congregate (basketball games, street corners, etc.), and build rapport in those areas so that when they are needed as responders, they will have a relationship with the young people in question;
- Case management: Outreach workers support the interruption intervention by engaging with high risk individuals and developing a therapeutic alliance with them. This therapeutic alliance allows the outreach workers and youth to develop a plan of personal change and engagement in steps towards a more prosocial existence;
- Programming supports/referrals: The young person and outreach worker will collaborate to develop an individual plan for personal change. This plan may direct youth toward a range of programs including community-led employability supports programs; employability supports programs; mental health support programs; alcohol and drug abuse support programs; housing supports; job-readiness supports; and parenting programs;
- Community reconciliation for youth: Community reconciliation circles are implemented to provide a platform for youth who are attempting to make personal changes to receive validation. These circles proceed in response to a specific incident, creating space for healing and resolution amongst community members as well as the youth who are engaged in high-risk activities; and
- Adult-youth support groups: Specific Nova Scotian and Africentric innovations are included in the Ceasefire program to complement the above interventions. Specifically, a support group for youth engaged in Ceasefire will be established. Adult male volunteers from the African Nova Scotian community are recruited to provide support to the youth, particularly in regard to exploring the challenges they face as members of a minority community. The support groups meet weekly.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: The lead organization must ensure proper analysis of community needs and knowledge of existing programs available to at-risk youth in Nova Scotia. The lead organization must also display an awareness of the unique needs that African youth in Nova Scotia may have, as well as the risk factors that predispose them to gang involvement.
- Partnerships: It is recommended that lead organizations establish partnerships with police services, schools, local businesses, and other community-based organizations.
- Training and technical assistance: Officers must be trained on the Ceasefire approach and the Africentric approach.
- Risk assessment tools: Youth are evaluated using the Ceasefire Assessment Tool.
- Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.
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: Not applicable.
- 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
Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the Ceasefire in the HRM program in Halifax, Nova Scotia between 2013 and 2018. The Ceasefire in the HRM program was implemented by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Nova Scotia.
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of the CeaseFire model in the HRM was conducted between 2013 and 2018 by the Resilience Research Centre. The evaluation included a pre-, mid- and post-test design, using mixed-methods that incorporated measures from youth, program staff, and key stakeholders. It also incorporated most significant change stories to examine the impacts of the intervention.
Results from this evaluation showed the following:
- Participants assessed at intake and again upon exiting the program reported a statistically significant increase in resilience (based on the Child and Youth Resilience Measure), defined as one’s individual capacity, available relationships, connection to culture and contextual resources which help to cope with challenging circumstances. However, due to the fact that survey results relied on self-reported data, these results should be considered with caution.
- Participants reported statistically significant differences on the Attitudes Towards Guns and Violence Scale, the Acceptance of Couple Violence Scale and the 4HSQ Delinquency Scale. However, due to the fact that survey results relied on self-reported data, these results should be considered with caution.
- There were no significant findings to report for substance use outcomes.
- Qualitative findings also suggest that participants had an increased awareness of the consequences of violence, coping and problem-solving skills, pro-social attitudes, and reduced factors associated with criminality.
- Other differences in key measures could not be noted due to small sample sizes.
Between October 1st, 2013 and December 21st, 2017, overall total program expenses amounted to $2,438,519.54 and the total cost per program participant was $24,143.76, based on 101 participants enrolled in the program over the course of its implementation.
Ungar, M., & Liebenberg, L. (2014). Ceasefire in the HRM: Building a Nova Scotian Approach. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Resilience Research Centre. Annual Evaluation Report submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).
Resilience Research Centre (2018). CeaseFire Final Evaluation Report. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).
For more information on this program, contact:
Crime Prevention Unit
Nova Scotia Department of Justice
1690 Hollis Street, 2nd Floor
PO Box 7
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2L6
Telephone: (902) 424-3149
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
For more information on Cure Violence, refer to the program descriptive sheet.
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