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ImageUrban violence, poverty, addiction, inadequate schools…where to start?  The answer may lie outside the box.

Dr. Gary Slutkin may be the most influential peace maker that you’ve never heard of.  Applying the principals of infectious disease containment to street violence in high-crime urban neighborhoods his methods have made statistically significant (and outwardly obvious) differences.

When plotted on a map, Dr. Slutkin found that outbreaks of violence, like infectious diseases, appear in clusters.  It turns out that early intervention on the patients most like to spread the disease is the most effective method of containment, regardless of whether we’re talking about TB, cholera, HIV, or gun violence.

However it’s imperative that we shift the perception of perpetrators of violence as “bad” people who need punishment, but rather “sick people” who need rehabilitation into healthy behaviors.

This isn’t theory. It’s in action.

There is even a film about Slutkin’s “Interrupters” the so-called street teams who integrate into communities and dispel violence by mediate disputes and one-to-one peer counseling.

In this TEDmed talk, Dr. Slutkin explains his theory and shows the tangible results in urban Chicago.