REPORT ON THE FIRST KNIFE CRIME SEMINAR
HELD ON 20TH MAY 2017.
AT LONDON WATERLOO ST JAMES HALL.

What is knife crime?

It’s a criminal offense committed using a knife as a weapon. It’s a complex, reasons behind its increase as one of the major causes of death among young black youth mostly male is, and solutions seem to be pushy footing despite a catalogue of initiatives by government departments and third sector community contributions.

The awareness initiative comes amid heightened concerns about levels of knife crimes mostly in London and highly in young black male under the age of 20 years old.
Ugandan community has not been spared and numbers are disturbing, leaving our communities with silent but difficult conversations.

“Knife crime” is a construct. It does not simply mean, as one might reasonably expect, crimes committed with knives. It denotes a certain type of crime committed by a certain type of criminal in a certain kind of context.(John Mc Shane 2010: Knife crime—The Law of the blade).

The seminar was well attended (about registered no, 63 people with a good number of the youth with their parents).

A Metropolitan police report released last month indicated that between 2014 and 2016 the number of children carrying knives in London schools rose by almost 50%, while the number of knife offences in London schools rose by 26%. The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, called it a “wake-up call” (Gary Younge writing in the guardian newspapers –Beyond Blades’) March 2017.

The answer to many people’s question – “How many more of our children have to die before the government act?” – is both damning and complex. Many more children will die from knife-related violence; indeed, But it is not because the government and related agencies are not acting. Pretty much every week, somewhere in the country, there is some kind of initiative to tackle “knife crime”’ – an amnesty, a new charity in the name of the fallen, an appeal from police, a mayoral statement.


 

BHA –Taking lead:

The Buganda Heritage Association UK/Ireland decided to take lead by organizing a stakeholders seminar to hear the voices and views of the people from varying perspectives as concerns the knife crime siege happening mostly in the black community. The Ugandan community living in UK has registered victims and perpetrators.

A lot of views were made especially the youths complaining of respect from parents likewise parents putting it back to the youth to be mindful of their duties and responsibilities.

But the main aim of the seminar was to create awareness among various parties to share and encourage having an open dialogue with view to promote a collective approach to dealing with risks and impact on social well being.
The seminar addressed the following areas for purposes of guiding the dialogues and help map out how far we could widen our understanding of this crime.

What makes one a perpetrator or one to being a highly potential victim?

Are there warning signs to do preventative work
What do we miss and where should we go for help when warning signs show “amber lights”


 

Why do young people need special attention to prevent violence?

Violence among young people occurs between individuals in the streets and in institutions such as schools, residential facilities and in the workplace and society notices it more than other forms of violence.

The mass media and society are quick to demonize violent young people, but this report argues that youth is a period of vulnerability and that the root causes of violence such as abuse and neglect suffered in childhood need to be considered.

Childhood and adolescence are periods of cognitive and behavioral changes, and exposure to adversity in the form of neglect, conflict or violence may result in mental trauma, atypical development and likely to be associated with aggressive behaviors, violence and other health-damaging behaviors. Preventing such adversity and implementing comprehensive intervention programs in adolescence and early adulthood can help to integrate young people into the mainstream socially fitting and acceptable safe societal structures (J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010)

The links between early childhood adversity and later perpetration or vulnerability to victimization need to be considered in developing a life-course approach to prevention, early detection and internvetions
(Etherington, Nicole A. & Baker, Linda L. (2016).

What are the risk and protective factors?

Numerous biological, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors interact to increase young people’s risk of being involved in violence and knife-related crime. Being a victim of child maltreatment and suffering adverse experiences in childhood increase the risk of being involved in both violence among young people and weapon-carrying in adolescence.

Young males have a significantly increased risk of involvement in violence as victims and perpetrators and of using weapons. Exposure to other forms of violence and fear of violence in schools and the community also increases young people’s risks. Associating with violent or delinquent peers is another key risk factor for violence.

There are strong relationships between using alcohol and drugs and being involved in violence and weapon-carrying, and having weapons freely available in the community enhances these risks. Community disorganization, low levels of neighborhood resources and low social capital can be important contributors to violence among young people. Income and social inequality are also strong risk factors for violence because of low social trust and resources. Social and cultural norms that tolerate violence, for example by endorsing violence as a normal method of resolving conflict or for punishing a child, can support and reinforce violence in society.

Protective factors can prevent violence from developing among young people. These include good social skills, self-esteem, academic achievement, strong bonds with parents, positive peer groups, good attachment to school, community involvement and access to social support. Reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors can prevent violence and weapon-carrying among young people.

Strengthening the knowledge base of risk factors using a life-course approach in the European Region should therefore be a key priority to better identify interventions for prevention.

Culturally tested and actively followed ways and means to engage the youth have been claimed to make an impact on the prevention (Mick Brown telegraph feb 2011) reflecting on his observations made during a visit to the Jewish settlement in North London , Stamford Hill.
'People in this community have lots of children, and they’re always busy. 24 hours a day. They’re going to the synagogue, going to study, to work, to see their family, back to the synagogue, social events in the evening. It’s very full life.’


 

What can be done about violence among young people?

Overall, good evidence indicates that violence among young people can be prevented through the organized efforts of society. Such programs cut across the activity areas of many sectors and require multi-agency and multidisciplinary work. The evidence base is much stronger for interventions that adopt a public health rather than criminal justice approach and for those that reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors among young people early in life than for measures that seek to reduce violent behavior once it has already emerged.

However, no program can entirely prevent violence or the future development of violence among individuals. Thus, interventions are required in later life, despite the high costs of implementation. Programs that target children early in life are cost effective. These include parenting programs that have long-term effectiveness in preventing violent offending during adolescence and adulthood. Programs that develop children’s life and social skills in early childhood are also effective in both the short and longer term. These early interventions also improve school performance, reduce substance misuse and crime and improve outcomes for employment and health.

Such programs should be implemented widely given the high societal costs of violence and these added benefits to society. These require adaptation for local contexts and can target deprived neighborhoods with at-risk families. Reducing the availability and misuse of alcohol is important for preventing violence among young people, and good evidence supports various approaches, including setting minimum prices for alcoholic beverages, taxation, regulation and enforcement.
Good evidence also supports programs for preventing bullying for schools, which reduce violent attitudes and behavior and victimization in schools.

Other community settings can also be made safer, such as bars, clubs and other urban nightlife environments, to reduce alcohol-related violence, and community hot-spots can be targeted. Measures also exist that seek to reduce violence among young people who are already engaging in such behavior, but these are generally less well developed. Some evidence supports intensive treatments such as multi-system therapy, which involves interventions designed to help parents respond effectively to young people with serious criminal behavior. Problem-oriented policing and multi-component programs that combine social interventions at the community level also report positive results. Legislative measures to address access to knives and knife-carrying are promising and need to be studied further.


 

Risk factors for violence among young people and violence using knives

•A wide range of factors can increase the risk of violence among young people and violence using knives, many of which are common to both perpetrators and victims. This topic identifies factors related to individuals, their relationships and the communities and societies in which they live that have been associated with violence among young people and the use of weapons: an ecological model of violence.

• Individual factors
• Gender

Young males report greater involvement in assault and bullying than females and are at increased risk of carrying weapons and being the victims of knife-related violence. Examples include boys are more likely to perpetrate bullying, and girls often reported
greater victimization. Women can also be at greater risk of victimization through other forms of violence, including sexual and intimate partner violence although violent relationships can often involve abuse by both male and female partners specific to knife-related violence, in England, 90% of hospital admissions for knife-related assaults are among males and in Scotland, men 15–34 years old are mostly at risk.

2.2 Age
Different forms of violence can affect young people at different stages of life. Among 11- to 15-year-olds in the Region, the prevalence of being a victim of bullying decreases with age, whereas that of being a perpetrator increases . In England and Wales, a study of people 10–25 years old found that assault perpetration peaked at age 14–15 years, with elevated levels among males aged 12–19 years and females aged 12–17 years.

2.3 Ethnicity
Studies often find that the risk of violence among young people varies between ethnic groups however there’s a marked over representation of victims and perpetrators among the black ethnic minorities in general terms compared to other ethnic minorities and the majority white Caucasian counterparts .

The David Lammy report (2014) for example, the report found that young black males are 10.5 times more likely than young white males to be arrested for robbery. In general, black men were more than three times more likely to be arrested than white men

2.4 Mental and behavioral characteristics
Children with personality and behavioral characteristics such as hyperactivity, attention problems, poor behavioral control, sensation-seeking and impulsiveness are at increased risk of becoming involved in violence as young people.

Low self-esteem in adolescence has been associated with aggression , as have feelings of hopelessness about the future (such as not expecting to live long or viewing the future negatively) and depression.

2.5 Low academic achievement
Numerous studies have associated low academic achievement and aspirations and poor commitment to school with violence among young people .

2.6 Past victimization and fear of violence
Young people who have experienced violence in childhood are at increased risk of being involved in further violence in adolescence and adulthood. Young people with histories of physical or sexual abuse in childhood can also have increased risks of perceiving a need to carry a weapon, actually carrying a weapon and reporting having threatened someone else with a weapon. Experiencing, witnessing and fearing other forms of violence can also increase the risk of carrying a weapon. There appears to be a relationship between weapon-carrying and being a victim of physical violence, weapon-related violence (such as being stabbed or threatened with a knife), rape, bullying and other forms of crime (such as having property stolen)

2.8 Other drug use
Young people who smoke tobacco or use illicit drugs have an increased risk of being involved in violence. Smoking tobacco is likely to be a proxy for risk-taking behavior among young people rather than a cause. Although the same can be true for illicit drug use, the pharmaceutical effects of some illicit drugs may make people more vulnerable to violence. Substances such as cocaine and amphetamines have been particularly linked to violence.

3 Relationship factors
3.1 Family structure
Family structure can affect a young person’s risk of violence. Young people living in single-parent families or in large families (with many siblings) or who have teenage mothers have been found to be more likely to become involved in violence during adolescence. Young people who suffer abuse in childhood or grow up in dysfunctional families (with family conflict) can also experience higher levels of violence and weapon-carrying.

3.2 Peer relationships
Young people who associate with delinquent peers have increased risks of violence and weapon-carrying. The Self-report Delinquency Study found that 18% of adolescents with delinquent friends had-committed assault in the past year compared with 2% of those without delinquent friends

At the seminar questionnaires were provided to participants to be filled below are some of the feedbacks that were given.

These ware obtained from 19 randomly selected participants

 

Table1.did the seminar meet your learning objectives.

   Objectives No of respondents
 a)  Good workshop  5(25%)
 b)  I have not had the chance to hear the young generation for sometime  1(5%)
 c)  Helped me understand and learn more  3(15%)
 d)  Helped me understand and learn more  1(5%)
 e)  Parents and children had the opportunity to express themselves freely what they feel and think of what can be done and what cant be done  3(15%)
 f)  I was happy others think the same way as me  4(20%)
 g)  Being able to speak up  3(15%)
   Total  19(100%)

2. How do you intend to intend to apply what you learn?

 No  Applications No of respondents
 a)  Am going to follow through with what I have said and what was said  1
 b)  Explore how we can build adheres with adheres with young people parents and partner NGOS  1
 c)  Communicate better with family members and respect  1
 d)  Learn to apply what I was taught have a serious talk with my parents about my behavior  1
 e)  Repeat what I’ve learnt and do it again  1
 f)  Being understanding that our culture community is very important even if we live in a white culture  1
 g)  Taking adult advise and wok on my communication as well in a creative way  1
 h)  Through myself and other people I know sharing with others  1
 i)  Understanding children and parents  1
 j)  Telling friends about knife crime  1
 k)  My children have learnt a lot our relationship is going to change  1
   Total  11

11 respondents out of 19 were able to respond to this section of the questionnaire

•Were the presentations made clearly?

A respondent said I will start with the person who said no their comment was it could be more organized. Great police and youth did well. Each point was explained and delivered well enough for everyone to understand clearly. The guest professionals were fantastic the children and adults were amazing. Others said they were taking advise from the youth and adult .Very clearly and simple language used for easy understanding. Presentations were great and helpful.
Organized well                        3
Very clear                               7
Simple language                     3
Professionals                          2
Advise from youth and adults   4
Total                                     19

4. Was the aim of the program wellexplained?

 No  Aim No of respondents
 1  To understand knife crime and its different aspects  7(40%)
 2  I was able to get the grasp of reality and how to act as a young adult  5(30%)
 3  Yes we need to have more meetings like this  4(20%)
 4  Very useful  3(10%)
   Total  19(100%)

 

5. Was the room suitable for the seminar?

Answers were yes comments as follows
• Excellent
• For numbers who attended yes but for future very restrictive the location was good as well
• Not big or small either
• According to the number that come to the event the arrangement was fine
• May be a little bigger room because their were a lot of people
• Ok but noise control was difficult sound
• Yes plenty of space loved it
• Very suitable next time have a stage
Majority of the respondents 50% were able to mention the suitability of the room and comfort just a few 10% made note about the distance being far and place being small

6. Have you any suggested improvements regarding this seminar

Comments from respondents about the improvement of the place were as follows
• It was great I loved it
• Follow up recommendation
• It can happen regularly
• Invite more parents and children
• Its timing should be examined to attract more parents and youth
• Organize more

7. Out of 10 please rate the seminar

80% rated 8 and 10% rated 5 and 1% rated below 5%

The comments of the respondents
One respondent was able to respond to the reaction of the people being late.3 respondents really enjoyed themselves.5 respondents requesting the seminar to be tried again and 4 respondents looking forward to the next seminar.6 respondents praising the creativity of the seminar with the response of great ideas

8.Would want the outcome of this survey?
11 respondents were able to respond to this question they are interested in knowing the outcomes of the survey.


 

 

Conclusion

(a)-This seminar has shown that numerous risk factors interact to result in violence among young people and knife-related violence. Young males have significantly increased risk of being involved in violence. Being a victim of child maltreatment and having other adverse experiences in childhood are important risk factors for being a victim or perpetrator of violence in youth.
This emphasizes the need to undertake a life-course approach to problems solving and locate new ways that might address the changing modalities of crime and save lives.

Differences in mind sets of parents and children of first and now second generation on life in UK, success & challenges in life and how the virtual gap is exploited by agents of negative influences were major risk markers were implied during the discussions.

Physically present parents but absent to offer quality emotional parenting was a highlighted factor by the youth

(b)-There are, however, protective factors such as good parenting, improved communication and quality time with the youth and their families, with bodies of authority and influence like Faith and cultural groups, the Met Police, to spur enhanced social skills and positive community support and involvement.

The future seminars by BHA would look at collaborative programs and joined up initiatives that aim to reduce these risk factors and enhance protective factors to prevent crime and violence among young people. BHA will continue to taking a facilitating role to the youth and encourage them taking the leading role to promote confidence as well as aiding adults to create more dialogues with the youth and authorities to bridge the gaps.

(c)-Collaborative initiatives involving the Metropolitan police, Mayors safer neighborhood office and other cultural & faith based organizations need harnessing and nurturing. As clearly put by one young male participant “It’s cool to see a policeman seated with us and sharing his experiences, but its only because he is not in uniform”.

A thought provoking afternoon demanding more questions and answers that individual parents cannot respond to in silos but as a community we possibly can organise and do something with Government, police, communities , faith leaders and most importantly engaging the youth to listen to their stories. We can do it, we have been trying and we can do more and better..We cannot fully get lid of crime and crime is not static but evolves. Building a therapeutic network amongst our communities from cultural perspectives to build evolving synergies and always being mindful of our roles, responsibilities and duties to give back to our communities.

 

Compiled by Masembe-Nkata facilitator of YCT working with BHA.
Thanks to all participants Metropolitan Police, Safe neighborhood, the organizing committee BHA, Iteso community in UK & ST Andrews Church Waterloo.

See copy of addendum:
A reflective account by Avril Jones (S &S community lead Southwark)