In 2014, Trinidad and Tobago will be the first Caribbean country to adapt and pilot the CureViolence program. The CureViolence pilot, which will be funded under the IDB-financed Citizen Security Programme (CSP), will use a public health approach to anticipate and interrupt transmission of risk events and change the social norms and behaviors that perpetuate violence. The model was developed and first implemented in Chicago in 1995, where it is credited with significantly reducing shootings and homicides in targeted communities. Since that time, it has been successfully replicated in several U.S. cities and internationally.
Over the past 15 years, Trinidad and Tobago has seen a staggering increase in violence and crime. The nation of 1.3 million people experienced a 464% increase in murders between 1998 and 2008, and a 142% increase in woundings and shootings over the same period. The rates for murders, wounding, and shootings have gone down over the past several years but remain among the highest in the Caribbean region. The CureViolence approach to stopping the spread of violence focuses directly on those persons or groups who are at the highest risk for initiating violence or being a victim of it. Highest risk participants are defined as individuals who meet specific multiple criteria based on age, involvement in groups, engagement in activity associated with violence, and being a recent victim or close to a recent victim of violence that are derived from research and local data. CureViolence participants are usually beyond the reach of conventional services.
Complementing the project, the IDB will finance an impact assessment of the implementation of CureViolence in Trinidad. The evaluation will provide key information on the effectiveness of CureViolence in reducing the murder, woundings and shooting rates in target communities and serve to identify best practices for crime and violence reduction in Trinidad and Tobago as well as other Caribbean countries.
Dana King is a Modernization of State Specialist based at the IDB’s Country Office of Trinidad and Tobago.