Knife awareness – Never choose knives!
Young people have both been the victims and the perpetrators in knife crime incidents that have occurred; seeing and hearing about knife crime in the news reports can be worrying and frightening for some young people and they will need reassurance. Recently there has been an upsurge in young females who are carrying knives, often as females are seen by some to be less likely than males to be searched and caught with a weapon.
Feeling the need for protection, to be a part of a gang, to ‘feel big’ or ‘earn respect’ can be enough to make a young person choose to carry a knife. By doing so they increase their risk of becoming a victim – often hurt by their weapon. Even being with someone who is carrying a knife can be enough to get hurt or be in trouble with the police. Here are some common factors known to influence young people to carry knives;
County lines – organised drug networks
Gang affiliation – protection/status
Fear of crime – being attacked/self-protection
Victim of bullying – self-protection
Peer pressure – a perception that most young people carry knives.
The common factor is the ‘vicious circle’ young people find themselves in, for example – in a gang/drug network it is an expectation to be armed: ‘fear or be feared’ ‘live or die’ – regarding fear of crime and thinking ‘I need to defend myself’ highlights the absence of thinking or disregard that they are committing a crime to prevent a crime which is not a defence in law – also risking the knife they carry being used on them in a confrontation or causing injury to themselves.
The biggest concern and risk is that if a young person carries a knife they will almost definitely use it in situations where they feel the need to protect themselves, commit a crime, cause fear or reinforce their status/reputation.
Knife crime awareness – short film – for ages 12 and above – https://youtu.be/6w93L24A6Ws
Knife crime awareness - short film - for ages 12 and above –https://youtu.be/CIydCG8lFYQ
Parents, it’s important to consider several contributing factors…
When looking to avoid these outcomes to the best of our abilities, we need to seek opportunities for natural conversations, we need to consider identifying a young person’s needs that are possibly not being met. Their attitudes and values, are they similar to the family they have been brought up in or have they developed new ones from external individuals. Risks and consequences, everyone has different sensitivity and impulsivity levels, it’s up to the responsible adult to pay attention to these characteristics in a young person and if they may be vulnerable to being targeted or likeliness in ’acting out, how well does your young person respond to consequences? How often are consequences spoken about naturally? Conflict and choices, take opportunities to discuss conflict, ask ‘What would you do if?’ and discuss openly without preaching. Understanding your young person will help you to gauge how they manage conflict; would they take a knife to protect themselves or ‘show off? What physical environment are you in? What learnt behaviour is your young person absorbing from their surroundings? As a parent, it’s hard to accept that we can’t control every aspect of our children’s lives but we can do our best to prepare them through education, knowledge and support.