When we met in Project B on March 15th for the third Young People Insight forum, careers was meant to be the point of discussion. However, after learning about the fatal stabbing of 20-year-old Mujaahid Wilson in Thornton Heath on the previous night, I decided to change the subject of discussion from careers to knife crime.
Knife crime is a major issue among young people, which regularly terrorizes our streets and pointlessly rips young lives away from their families, friends and futures. It is something that needs to be addressed and prevented immediately, but finding the answers is proving to be difficult, with knife crime showing no signs of going away.
When I posed the question of why young people carry knifes and why some of them ultimately end up stabbing another human being, one of the first reasons given was drugs and the effect they have on your behaviour. This particular young people believes that drugs can make you very boisterous and aggressive.
Other reasons included people’s insecurities and wanting to fit in, the feeling of empowerment that comes from carrying a “tool”, problems at home, certain genres of music, territorial rivalries and naivety. There was also a strong point raised by a 25-year-old who said that “People think no one can touch them”, giving them a sense of courage that may lead them to carry out violent crimes.
He later added, “Certain people, they think before they act,” which I think is key, because too many young people make bad decisions and carry out horrific acts, without stopping to consider the consequences. If more young people stopped to think about the consequences of the their actions in that moment when they reached for their knife, then some of those young lives might have been spared.
The same 25-year-old also thought that some people see knife crime as normal — “When you see something everyday, you don’t fear your life.” I think that the common occurrence of knife crime and the reports of stabbings on the news, without many solutions, has made many individuals feel numb to it. It has started to feel like a normal part of life for many individuals, which is a huge negative, as it makes the issue of knife crime a lot harder to fix.
Race also came up in the discussion, as an 18-year-old expressed her sadness over a lot of the knife crime having something to do with black people, which helps contribute to the unfair labelling of black people by the media. This interestingly led into a conversation on race and the music industry, which was a little off-topic but a strong discussion nonetheless — it just shows how the forum can take different twists and turns, and that the youth have so much to say.
To wrap up the discussion, I asked how we could possibly prevent knife crime, as one of the main elements of Young People Insight is coming up with solutions to address the various problems young people face, rather than simply talking about them. The responses included:
- Give young people something to do
- Keep them busy
- Have more jobs and also have more initiatives in place to help certain individuals find jobs
- Create a short film (or another media resource) that will show the realities of knife crime.
For knife crime to truly be prevented, it will take all of us working together as a community, finding the root of the problem and reaching out to the young people in the most effective ways possible.
The next forum will be on the 19th April at Project B, for anyone who is aged 16-25. This time, we’ll be discussing careers, so come ready to talk about reaching your career goals and if a career is really any different to employment.
Follow @YPInsight on Twitter to stay up to date with any updates or information.