I think we all realise that there is a huge problem in the UK with knife crime, and in particular in our cities, knife crime rose by 22% in England and Wales in 2017, and in fact it is at it’s highest rate in 7 years according to government statistics. I can think of at least three stabbings in my local area during the last year where those involved were under 18. We have children, carrying knives and committing violent assaults on each other, CHILDREN committing murder, CHILDREN’S lives lost and ruined to knives, families destroyed. I think we assume that young people that become involved in crime belong to gangs and that we would be able to identify them by the stereotype image that the media portrays, teenage boys with dark hoods up, intimidating members of the public and behaving anti-socially, perhaps. The truth is, it could be my son, your daughter, the child in the class predicted to get straight As or the child with the difficult home life. We live in a society where social media and public image means more than it ever has done before, the potential for peer pressure now isn’t just from your friends, it is through your Facebook, Instagram, musical.ly (known as tikTok now), YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Children are learning about knives on the street, on the internet via social media and not from schools or the police. We know there is a real issue for our youth and violent crime and yet we are not learning about the dangers in school? I find it very difficult to understand this missed opportunity, and I did watch recently on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, a discussion with a headteacher, a victim of knife crime and an ex gang member, this was a week before the summer holidays and again, I feel this was too late. I also don’t feel that identifying children thought to be at risk and directing education to them is effective either, I really think this should be a part of the curriculum in order to reach all young people, and I have a personal reason as to why.
Recently, after hearing on the news of a mother and baby stabbed in London, I spoke to my 12 year old son about knives, because I felt compelled to do so, and realised that I had never done so before. I asked him what he knew about knife crime and what his thoughts were. He told me that he feels that if he carried a knife when out in the community, he would feel safer and would be able to protect himself if ever he needed to. Now if my son’s school were to decide which of their students would be at risk of carrying a knife or requiring education on knives, my son would most likely not be identified, he achieves well academically, has a good group of friends, he is involved with sports and a ‘model pupil’, and this comes back to my point earlier that it could be any one of our children. We need to be including real education on knife crime and the dangers of carrying weapons in our secondary schools, so that our children can be properly educated on the dangers.
Concerning also is the amount of people that are killed in unprovoked knife attacks, or bystanders that are killed. Which rings an alarming similarity to Ben Kinsella’s murder in 2008, as he walked home from an evening with friends and was stabbed to death. An article about Ben Kinsella and the work of The Ben Kinsella Trust can be found here.
This poem I saw shared on Instagram made me think immediately of the above scenario, by not talking about knives, knife crime, gang culture and violent crimes, we are not protecting our children, we are keeping this a taboo subject. We must do more as parents, as Aunties/Uncles, as neighbours, as teachers, as community leaders, as religious leaders, and try to bring this discussion to the forefront.