Andy Coghlan in New Scientist:
Shootings and killings in deprived areas of Chicago and Baltimore have plummeted by between 41 and 73 per cent thanks to a programme that treats violence as if it is an infectious disease.
Pioneers of the programme, called CeaseFire, say it relies on simultaneously changing attitudes and behaviour and will work anywhere.
The key is to change social norms so that violence is seen as “uncool” both by potential perpetrators and their communities, instead of being the automatic way to settle a dispute.
On 30 June, pioneers of the programme publicised their high success rate so far to attract interest at a time in the year when violence peaks, triggered by the heat.
“Violence gets transmitted the same way as other communicable diseases, so we train 'violence interruptors' to prevent escalation,” says Gary Slutkin, founder and executive director of CeaseFire.
“They change the norm from 'violence is what's expected of me' to 'violence will make me look stupid',” says Slutkin.