Statement of purpose While New York City (NYC) is one of the safest big cities in the US, cycles of violence persist in some NYC neighborhoods. Where the violence is most concentrated, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) oversees implementation of ‘Cure Violence’ (CV), an evidence-based, nationally recognised public health approach to violence prevention, at six sites with planned expansion to 11 more.
Methods/Approach The CV model reduces shootings/killings by promoting behaviour change among high risk youth and changing social norms that reinforce violence. “Credible messengers” identify and mediate conflicts before they escalate and direct high-risk program participants towards needed support services, and to engage community members to support non-violence. With stakeholder partnerships, NYC DOHMH enhances the model increasing access to ‘wraparound’ services, implementing anti-violence services in hospitals, and providing staff development. For example, coaching on Motivational interviewing (MI) techniques empower staff to better engage with participants and promote referrals. DOHMH provides TA by coordinating and training, monitoring program performance, engaging in feedback, facilitating sharing best practices, and troubleshooting.
Results Program implementation data were analysed for one year (from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014) at six CV programs. CV programs served 202 high-risk participants. They conducted 588 mediations (267 in hospitals), and led 92 community events engaging 14,649 residents. Each CV program went at least 70 days with no shootings in their service catchment area. One went more than a year (367 days) with no shootings (from7/21/2012 to 7/23/2013). 41 CV program staff received MI training over 8 intensive sessions.
Conclusions Under DOHMH direction, CV programs are unifying program practices and testing program enhancements. Technical assistance is producing signs of strong service delivery and foreshadows an efficient launch of 11 new programs.
Significance and contribution to the field DOHMH’s adaptation of a proven public health model in high-violence communities: 1) advances the public discourse on violence as a health concern; 2) expands the inventory of solutions to the problem; and 3) informs replication in other NYC communities and beyond.
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