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Each year, more and more people are injured as a result of knife crime. That’s the harsh truth of our society, knife crime is becoming more and more prevalent within our towns and cities, and the threat continues to rise. Knife crimes are at the highest level now since records began in 1946, and the number is only increasing, but why? Why do these violent acts still take lives, hospitalise people, and terrorise individuals and their families? The reality is, there is no simple explanation. Could it be that the number of police officers across England and Wales is decreasing year on year? Possibly. Could it be that budget cuts are forcing interest into different types of crime? Maybe. Is it because stop and searches are at their lowest in over ten years? Well, there certainly is a correlation.
We can blame policing cuts all we want, but I’m not going to sit here and blame a stretched police force, a skeletal group of forces covering areas bigger than ever before, with every constabulary in charge of an ever-growing population. It’s not the police’s fault, they’re doing all that they can. We could blame the government, but they’re too tied up in whatever Brexit is, that they don’t seem to have the time nor effort to put any sort of consideration into anything else. The funding is all wrong, the hierarchy of issues is all messed up, but that’s not going to change in the near future is it? The only people we can blame is ourselves.
As young people we are central to knife crime. As people age 16-24, we are part of the age cohort in which the most suspects of knife crimes reside, and young men within the same bracket make up 25% of the 285 knife killings in the year as of March 2018. We are the main reason that knife crime exists, and that’s the truth. There are many reasons as to why we are the main group at the heart of knife crime, but we are not to blame. The rise of drug gangs, which ministers blame the rise in knife crime upon, the inconsistent and severe lack of mental health services, unable to provide young people with the support that they need. The lack of positivity given towards young people, the negative media, or the proposed abuse and feelings of worthlessness within our young people could be to blame. The amount of young people skimmed over by society is growing, and thus, as is the resistance.
We could spend an age debating where to lay the blame, but a better use of our time would be to really look at the effects that it has, and what we can do to change the face of our generation. We have to start the change, because if we don’t, who else will? The best way to solve a problem is start from the inside, and there is nobody more central than we are.
I love a good statistic, if you’ve ever read any other thing I’ve ever written, it is jam packed with numbers and facts purely because they blow my mind and help me to create a picture in my mind that I can visualise rather than issues being no more than abstract concepts. But statistics here should not be used without reason. Each number represents a life, a brother, sister, mum, dad, son or daughter. A life that cannot be brought back, a family left broken, a future taken too soon. Each number represents the parents, the children, the friends of the victims, any crime does not only have one victim. Each number represents the added ounce of fear within a community, and the added barriers that we, as young people, must face.
Not only are the lives around the victims changed dramatically, but we must also consider the knife wielder. Many young people in cities (just under 50%) say that they carry a knife out of fear, for self defence or because they need it to feel safe. Many knife crimes are committed when a young person is backed into a corner, entangled in a gang, in trouble with the police, or from broken backgrounds that mean that they believe that they have nothing more to offer but to commit an offence. It has been suggested that many perpetrators of knife crime come from broken families, single parent families, or are homeless. It is also suggested that these individuals have had little help and advice during school, for any reason such as friend problems to how to get a job. Quite often, it is said that the individuals committing these offences are loners, cut out from their friendship groups or expelled from any schooling environment.
So what can we do? As young people, we have a responsibility to create change, and stop this pointless harm to the people around us, and ourselves. If the support is not available to us, we make it. If we feel alone, we communicate together. And if change does not happen itself, we make it. Because, we are the future, as cliché as that may sound, we are the only people who can stop these stupidly high statistics from rising any further. We are the generation that can break records, but not this one. We can stop this if we work together, we can change the way that the world views us, and the way that we view ourselves.
I know we have the weight of a lot of our predecessors’ screw-ups on our shoulders, and we face many challenges that those before us would never have thought possible, but only we can do it.