I am currently reading One Blood: Inside Britain’s Gang Culture by John Heale, and it is constantly opening my eyes and helping me to realise why young people are in the state that they are.
I’ve desperately wanted to understand why young people have resorted to violent crime to resolve their problems, or why there has been a surge in knife crime, or even why they want to be involved in the gang life. Reading the first four chapters of this book is already making it a lot clearer to me.
Although everyone has the ability to make their own choices and choose their own path, these young people have been let down by society, the system and even their own communities or family time after time.
Their elders neglect them, ignore their problems, talk down to them, abuse them and the list goes on. They turn to this life, because they see it as somewhere to belong, with the opportunity to earn a lot of money and be associated with people they can look up to.
The divide between upper and lower class seems to have played a significant part in creating the lawless young people that we see today, yet the government would like to cut their benefits and there are many of them being forced to work in jobs with low pay. I’m not saying that I agree with it, but is it any wonder that these young people take to the streets to sell drugs? They will gladly run the risk of being convicted, because they will be making a lot more money this way.
However, the issue of violence is a little different. The current generation of young people have grown up surrounded by this gang culture, with the regular reporting of stabbings and shootings. In a way, they are used to the violence, so they start to become desensitized to the violence. As more and more young people begin using knives, more of them begin to feel unsafe, so they then start carrying knives and the cycle continues.
Although gang culture may not be entirely relevant anymore, the issues of violence and selling drugs is incredibly relevant in our society. Young people feel like they have something to prove, as they demand respect in a society where their voices are so often ignored.
We need to listen to young people; interact with them, get them engaged and help them to understand the value of human life. If not, we’ll lose them forever and who wants to think about what our future may be like then.