WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

The young are the ones at risk from knife violence

25 January, 2018

• THE suggestion by Detective Chief Superintendent Sean Yates, head of the Met police knife crime unit, that five-year-olds should be taught about the dangers of knives shows just how endemic a problem this has become in our capital.

We know from Barnardo’s work with young Londoners that for some, carrying a knife is now, shockingly, an accepted part of their daily routine. They may feel it is necessary for their own protection, when in reality they place themselves in ever greater danger.

Near daily reports of knife-related tragedies in newspapers across the city document the needless waste of young promise and the terrible impact on families and communities. Yet our boys and girls, the ones at risk, seem increasingly informed more by social media than by other news sources.

We know that online influences can act as a dangerous catalyst to violence. Material is increasingly posted online by gangs to taunt their rivals, escalating reprisals and increasing violence as young people seek to protect their status and reputation.

To protect our children we must address the complex reasons behind the current spike in knife violence and understand the many factors that influence and endanger them, from early childhood onwards. To wait until they reach adolescence is to leave it much too late.

Prevention and early intervention is a key focus of Barnardo’s work with an all-party parliamentary group of MPs, investigating the causes of knife crime. Hopefully this inquiry will result in some much-needed focus on how to support young people to build a better and more positive future for themselves.

LYNN GRADWELL
Director, Barnardo’s London

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