Violence multiplies into an epidemic and yet few see it for the disease it is—grown through social conditions, spread through contact with one's peers, becoming stronger as it moves from person to person, killing the carrier and destroying the health of the community. This is what Gary Slutkin, M.D., saw when he returned to Chicago after developing a model to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa for the World Health Organization. As an infectious disease control specialist, Slutkin viewed Chicago's urban violence as an epidemic that could only be arrested if it was interrupted in the same way as all health epidemics: Changing the social norms that spread disease by building a strategic intervention and the structures to support it.
CeaseFire is a structured, deliberate and disciplined violence intervention model that communities adopt as their own. CeaseFire creates peace and prosperity by interrupting the disease of violence, paving the way for all other social institutions and programs to be more effective in elevating the overall health of the community. It uses multiple messengers—community organizations, faith leaders, law enforcement, former gang members and everyday citizens—working in concert to repeatedly deliver a consistent message through peer relationships.