‘I worry about knife crime, a big boy got stabbed near my corner shop.’ R is 10 years old and lives in New Cross. Along with nearly 60 other children in his school R has just taken part in a new knife crime awareness project developed by New Cross Gate Trust, working with Somerville Youth & Play Provision and funded by New Cross and Telegraph Hill ward assemblies.
Jill Mountford, Community Development Manager for New Cross Gate Trust said:
‘We are very pleased so far with our new project. We’ve developed a series of age appropriate workshops that are informative, challenging and educational. It’s our aim to equip children with the harsh facts about knife crime and its impact; for them to better understand the human body and our vital organs; for them to have strategies to avoid conflict and to understand some basic emergency first aid skills and what they can do to help save a life.
‘We deliver the workshops in schools and take the children to visit the Ben Kinsella Trust exhibition at Finsbury Library in Islington. The trip to the exhibition is crucial in really getting children to understand the shocking and deep impact knife crime has on the family and wider community. The exhibition is divided into rooms and one room is decked out as a prison cell, bunks, dirty toilet and graffiti on the walls. Here the children meet an ex-con, someone who has done time for Joint Enterprise, actually having served a 6 year prison sentence and he tells it like is. It’s a powerful and moving experience. Invaluable.
‘Before the summer school holidays we will have worked with around 240 children in New Cross, this is just a fraction of those who need a better understanding of knife crime. It’s our intention to further develop the project and to get more funding so we can deliver it to more year 5, 6 and 7 children over the coming year’
Many children and youths will say people carry knives for protection. When asked from whom they need protecting they say bigger kids, kids in gangs and people who threaten them. The point to drive home is that if two youths are carrying knives and they fall out, ‘disrespect’ each other or have a fight, one or both are likely to use their knife. Carrying a knife does not protect anyone; it makes some people murderers and others dead.
R is not alone in worrying about knife crime. Many children in his year group say they are worried and show anxiety when discussing the subject. But alongside the worry and anxiety is a ‘normalisation’, a kind of shrug of the shoulders – knife crime happens, it’s part of the social landscape. And woefully it does happen, all too often, and it is part of the social landscape; but as adults it’s our job to come up with ways to make knife crime a thing of the past. This requires all of us, parents, teachers, community workers, local representatives, all of us coming together with no other agenda than to support children and young people to make better, more educated decisions about carrying knives. This project is a small but useful contribution to making this happen.
What is Joint Enterprise
It is complex and controversial law that means that if someone gets stabbed in your presence even if you didn’t know the person was carrying a knife you can get prosecuted and sent to prison. It’s real, it happens and the law is applied disproportionately to youth violence crimes.
Arrested and Prosecuted
If you are caught carrying a knife, you will be arrested and prosecuted. No ifs, no buts!
You will have a serious criminal record for the rest of your life. You can get a 5 year prison sentence even if you have not used the knife. A knife is no protection if you get caught carrying one.
There’s no safe place to stab someone
There really isn’t! A child aged around 12 years old has about 8 pints of blood in their body, an adult has about 10 pints. Our bodies have arteries running through them, muscular tubes carrying fresh oxygenated blood around the body keeping us alive and well. A severed artery will ooze blood and if untreated will cause death. A severed main artery under the armpit, in the neck, stomach or thigh will see blood leave the body at an alarming rate. If the body loses 3 or 4 pints of blood it will go into shock and at this point the situation is really grim, but lives can still be saved if we react quickly and calmly.