Written by Ayobola Peller
Not just as a mother but as a human being living in the UK, it is very saddening to read or hear about the increasing numbers of knife attacks in the country. Even more worrying is the unfortunate and proven fact that black men and boys are mostly the perpetrators and equally victims of these crimes.
According to a 2018 report by the Office of National Statistics, the spate of knife attacks amongst black youth in the UK has risen by an alarming 21 per cent across England and Wales, and if not curbed quickly, it could lead to more dire consequences.
Reasons such as penury and harsh living conditions are some of the factors leading to these rampant knife attacks. Funding shortfalls in mental support, youth services, policing and education by the government at a crucial moment has resulted in a huge ripple effect of these knife attacks.
You can’t but ask, whose responsibility is it to stop or prevent these attacks? Rather than point fingers, after all, it takes a community to raise a child, I think the focus should be more on collective action. A conscious, deliberate attempt by everyone to put a stop to it.
Let’s urge our youth to make conscious efforts to make positive decisions. Parents need to be more vigilant and build loving and trusting relationships with their children so that they feel safe enough to share their feelings and also to ensure they stay out of gangs. Fostering trust between police officers and young black people will go a long way in deterring these offences.
Also, there should be ’safe houses’ and other public services where young people who feel oppressed, bullied and threatened by ’gangs’ are encouraged to express themselves without fear or prejudice, intertwined with fun activities and positive counselling. More mental health support facilities should be made available for the delinquents. Education also has a greater impact as a preventive strategy for these attacks.
Many children with dreams and ambitions have fallen victims to these knife crimes. We need to have it ingrained in our young sons and daughters that carrying a knife won’t give the needed protection or solve conflicts. It’s up to us today to start encouraging healthy and safe choices for our young people.