Knife crime. It’s a topic that seems to be in the news every other day. And no guesses why. There were almost 43,000 knife offences in the UK between September 2017 and September 2018 alone. Yet this country still does nothing to properly address the issue. Criticism constantly targets the decision to cut police numbers by over 20,000 since 2010, but there are various other methods which could be used to solve the issue that knife crime poses to British society. Up until now though, the media and politicians alike have failed to point them out.
Merely putting more police on the streets in not going to resolve knife crime. While having more police on the streets may implement a greater fear of being caught amongst potential offenders, this will only stop a small amount (if any) from committing such crimes. Besides, do you really want to see our streets ridden with police? A constant reminder of how violent and dangerous today’s society has become. Surely the best solution is to remove the incentive of offenders to commit knife crimes. There are various ways through which this can be achieved.
The role of schools
I left sixth form less than two years ago, and knife crime was an issue that was hardly raised at all throughout my years at school. This needs to change, and here’s why. There is a huge focus on road safety at school. I remember multiple workshop days being held to warn of the dangers on the road, and did these warnings work? Yes. I remember being told that sitting at the front of the top deck of a bus is the most dangerous place to sit in the event of a crash. I now never sit there. While I’m not saying all students would have listened to this advice, I certainly know a few others who did. Add these figures up for all the students in the country, and I’d be willing to bet there are thousands more people who took advice on board from these workshops. Why can’t similar workshops be held regarding knife crime?
In fact, even more can be done in schools other than just running informative workshops on the dangers of knife crime. Teachers often become teachers because they enjoy helping children to improve as people. By bringing up the issue to their students every now and again, teachers can play a major role in ruining the appeal of knife crime and gang culture to their students. But the reason why education of knife crime in schools is absolutely crucial, is because young people involved in gang culture and knife crime most likely are situated in an environment away from school that promotes such a culture. So their fairly lives teach them that this culture is fine. At school, these helpless individuals can be enlightened on the atrocity that gang culture and knife crime is, that gets them to question their involvement in such a crowd. While not necessarily everyone would listen, many potentially would. Either way, it seems a no brainer to educate children on the dangers of knife crime in schools.
The role of parents & guardians
While schools have the power to make an enormous impact, parents and guardians have the opportunity to make an even greater one. I can remember one or two moments during my school years when I had to make a decision: hang out with the trouble-maker popular kids, or the unpopular people who I actually liked. Luckily, I chose the second option, but only out of downright luck. If I had chosen the alternative option, who knows what dreadful things I might have been peer pressured into. If parents can establish a strong level of communication with their children regarding what lies ahead of them, then young people can have a guide for making important decisions in their life. While I understand it can be difficult to communicate with an adolescent teen, it is absolutely essential that somebody is there to recognise the potentially dark paths the child needs to avoid in this grossly underestimated stage in their life.
Stop the emphasis on longer jail sentences
It might be argued that the implementation of longer prison sentences for offenders has increased the element of fear, and thus reduced the willingness of potential offenders to commit such crimes. With the percentage of offenders serving at least 3 months in prison for knife crime going up from 51% 10 years ago, to 82% now, sentences have evidently harshened. However, this has clearly had little impact, with knife crime offences on the rise in the UK.
Additionally, the young people involved in knife crime are often not inherently evil people. Rather, their environment has shaped them to think knife crime is okay, or even a necessity to defend themselves or prove themselves to their gang. By giving these misguided people life imprisonment, we are not teaching them how to improve themselves, or educating them on why they should avoid gang culture. Instead, we are punishing them for having a terrible upbringing and making incorrect decisions. This is ridiculous, and while offenders must face the consequences of their actions, these consequences should be designed to help a person to recognise their mistakes and improve. We do not need to cripple these people for life.
A plea to youngsters
To any young people reading this, know that knife crime is an environment that anybody can be drawn into. Trust your instincts, and don’t just be somebody’s friend because they are ‘cool’. In a few years time, they won’t be. They’ll be the kid who dropped out of school and ended up unemployed. Just know that it is normal for your school years to be some of the most emotionally challenging years of your life. To make decisions that benefit you in the long term will see you come out as a great human being in the end. I remember playing football alongside a happy, funny individual when I was just 11 years old. The other day I read an article stating that this person had been sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing and murdering another teen. He was just a normal kid, like anybody else. But one or two poor decisions, and even the most innocent among us can end up ruining multiple lives in an instant. Don’t let that be you, or one of your children.