“Physician Gary Slutkin spent a decade fighting tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS epidemics in Africa. When he returned to the United States, he thought he’d escape brutal epidemic deaths. But then he began to look more carefully at gun violence, noting that its spread followed the patterns of infectious diseases. In a talk at TEDMED in 2013, Slutkin offered a mind-flipping look at a problem that too many communities have accepted as a given. We’ve reversed the impact of so many diseases, says Slutkin, and we can do the same with violence. ”

Dr. Slutkin’s talk is fascinating – not just for treating violence differently but as a way of treating any problems that require behavior change. He notes that the model of addressing epidemics with punishment goes back to primitive pre-science times and wasn’t an effective way to reverse epidemics of any variety; the more effective approach is to interrupt transmission, prevent further spread and change the norms. He talks about the success he and other groups have had in applying this approach to urban violence.

There’s an excellent accompanying visualization here. You can also access a written transcript or an alternate video source to the YouTube clip below at TED.


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