CeaseFire engages the community to work with young people at high risk of being involved in violence, provides on-the-spot alternatives to shooting, and works to change social norms about gun violence.
(Note: In 2012 the organization formerly known as CeaseFire was renamed Cure Violence. Since this page was published in 2009 it refers to the program by its name at the time, CeaseFire.)
"Children shooting other children -- the United States has a particular problem with this violence," says CeaseFire founder Gary Slutkin, M.D.
He observes, "Violence behaves like an infectious disease in every single way." CeaseFire applies "exactly the methodology for controlling infectious diseases.”
CeaseFire stops violence in its tracks on Chicago's most dangerous streets, providing on-the-spot alternatives to shooting. Its "violence interrupters" conduct street-level outreach to prevent retaliation and other violent crime, and work to change social norms about gun violence.
Prior to the program's founding in 2000, more than 400 people were killed in Chicago each year. According to a Justice Department study, the city has experienced a 41-73 percent drop in shootings and killings in CeaseFire zones since that time, with 16-35 percent of the reduction directly attributable to program efforts. In addition, there has been a 100 percent reduction in retaliation murders in five of eight CeaseFire neighborhoods.
The program is organized around five core components:
- community mobilization,
- youth outreach,
- public education,
- faith-based leader involvement, and
- criminal justice participation.
"When a trauma patient comes in, CeaseFire will be called, very much like I'm called when there's a gunshot wound," says Dr. Steven Salzman of Chicago's Advocate Christ Medical Center. "They're putting in as many hours as I am."