Dr. Slutkin treats violence as another type of epidemic. In our live we all experience a “Case 0” encounter with personal violence, usually as children. For most of us any further encounters are sporadic and isolated, but in some locals violence seems to spread in much the same way as an epidemic. How does treating violence as a disease impact our thinking about this social problem?

Why you should listen:

Gary Slutkin is an epidemiologist, an innovator in violence reduction, and the Founder/Executive Director of Cure Violence, formerly known as CeaseFire. As a physician, he began his career working in Somalian refugee camps, where tuberculosis and cholera epidemics flared up regularly. He went on to work for the World Health Organization on reversing epidemics, supporting Uganda’s AIDS program which helped the country reversed the course of the disease. Upon returning to the United States, it occurred to him: could gun violence function like an epidemic? And could it be fought, and even stopped, using the principles of public health?

Who is he:

Slutkin has applied the lessons learned over a decade of fighting epidemics to the creation of Cure Violence, a public health approach that has been statistically validated by two independent evaluations by the Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control. Cure Violence has been called a “pioneering violence reduction model” and its methods have received nods from the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The program is being replicated at more than 50 sites in 15 U.S. cities, as well as in many countries abroad.

Dr. Sultkin is an Ashoka Fellow, a Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a senior advisor to the World Health Organization.


  1. What background did Slutkin bring to the question of violent neighborhoods?
  1. Slutkin says that ___________ is not a driver of behavior or behavioral change.
  1. What do some people mean when they call for change in EOE to fix youth shootings?
  1. Slutkin saw that clustering of violence in large cities was similar to __________ maps he saw as an epidemiologist.
  1. Slutkin believes that similar to controlling an epidemic of any disease, there are three things that must be accomplished to control epidemics of violence. What are these three things?
  1. At the street level, there is now much evidence that this system works, but when first instituted, there was a lot of opposition. What are some reasons for this opposition?
  1. There have been several recent cases of whites killing black youth and using the “Stand your ground” laws as a defense. These instances seem to be based in deeply embedded racially motivated fears. As a social psychologist, what would you do to reduce those fears?

Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease with Gary Slutkin


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