Posted: 27 December 2019

Supporting young people impacted by knife crime

Tonight, Channel 4 and Hollyoaks are airing an episode which will offer the first glimpse of a major 'county lines' storyline which will run throughout 2020. Their writers and researchers have been consulting our project workers and policy team who have been offering advice to ensure exploitation is portrayed accurately and sensitively. 

We caught up with one of our project workers who has worked with young people affected by criminal exploitation and knife crime. 

What’s your role and who are the young people you work with?

As an Anti-Knife Crime Project Worker my main responsibilities were supporting children and young people who had been impacted by knife crime. This was inclusive of both victims and perpetrators.

I liaised with primary and secondary schools across the city aswell as WMP and Birmingham Youth Offending Service in order to deliver awareness workshops and sessions with groups and individuals. 

Have you noticed any worrying trends in young people you've worked with?

Young people were labelled by isolated actions without their life story being considered. This was the most worrying trend I came across. For example, if a young person is caught carrying a knife, they are defined by this offence and the reasons are often not explored. 

All young people I worked with on an individual basis had been exposed to some form of violence at some point (e.g. anything from playing under-age video games to witnessing a violent offence).

Are you seeing a link between violence and exploitation?

Yes definitely. All one-to-one referrals were linked in some way to young people or adults who perpetrated violence.

When a peer influences another to commit a crime, I would refer to this as criminal exploitation. It's a complex issue which opens up important discussions around intent.

What are your hopes for young people that use the service?

I hope that young people learn to learn from the journey of their peers rather than feeling the need to go through their experience first-hand. This is causing a continuous cycle that young people need to break out of.

'I think the person who stabbed the other person should get help, otherwise how are we going to stop it happening?' - teenage boy reacting to a stabbing

The fact we are doing so much work around child criminal exploitation helps as the staff are spreading awareness around Birmingham. The more young people reached, the more we will impact the thought process of youth in the community.

I’m hoping that young people will pull away from exploitation and live independently of it.


By Kraig

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