6 March 2019

knife crime and youth violence in the UK - headlines

Just a few of today’s headlines around knife crime in the UK.

How do we ensure a positive future for Britain? No one knows what’s set to happen next in the political or economic world, especially in the wake of Brexit, but there is one thing we can control: setting up a strong future for our young people.

This week, we’re highlighting National Apprenticeship Week at UKFast. Our focus is on helping young people to take the right path for their futures. To show them all of the options alongside that of going to university.

I had some incredible feedback from parents yesterday,. This included a message that described how inspired a young person was following our apprenticeship event yesterday. There’s nothing more gratifying that hearing that you’re making an impact on young people and their futures. However, education is just one facet of that.

All week, the country has been shaken by the reality of the state of youth violence in the UK. It’s a story that has been hitting the headlines consistently for the past year or more. Ten teenagers have been killed in knife attacks in the first two months of this year. Ten young lives ended. For what reason?

Knife crime and youth violence

Whilst many conversations about knife crime centre on issues with poverty, education and family backgrounds – particularly on absent fathers and young males, according to the media today – the latest attacks show that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A young girl stabbed in the back in a park, and a privately educated boy in an affluent area of Greater Manchester became the latest victims this week. Stereotypes don’t fit this wider issue – they are two victims of a far greater problem.

So, what should the government do? It’s fair to say that this is becoming, if not already is, a national crisis. Yet it seems that today there’s a knee-jerk reaction to reinstate Stop and Search, with mounting pressure on Theresa May.

A lack of police on the streets, a lack of youth centres, the impact of austerity; there are a number of potential issues exacerbating youth violence. However, it is encouraging to see communities taking matters into their own hands. I heard Nigel Travis, firefighter and head coach of Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club on BBC 5Live speaking about his community club.

A positive step

Moss Side is notorious for its background in gang culture. However, that’s a reputation that has certainly been turned around in recent years. When communities take matters into their own hands, the impact is evident. For me, hearing that Nigel runs this club from a disused garage at the fire station, teaching young people respect and discipline, is extraordinary. He spends his ‘spare time’ (if there is such a thing) not teaching people to fight but teaching them not to; teaching them respect and self-control.

I have to admit that following my interview with Lucy Carroll this week, I have been wondering how we got our priorities so mixed up as a society. Lucy’s two children have the incredibly rare Batten Disease. Treatment has slowed the progression of the disease, however that treatment has now been denied, namely down to cost. If her two children don’t get the treatment they need, the harsh reality is that Amelia could be in a wheelchair and Ollie may no longer be here. It is beyond heartbreaking.

Seeing the family’s GoFundMe page totting up donations, and hearing stories like that of Nigel at Moss Side Fire Station gives me faith that all is not lost. I don’t have the answers to solve these issues affecting our young people. But I do know that the government needs to proactively reach out to those at the forefront, schools, youth centres and such, to get a handle on what our young people need before it’s too late.

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