London Is Reeling From Youth Knife CrimeMarch 28, 2010
This has not been a good week for the young in this city. On Thursday, news came through of a young man attacked with a knife and killed by a group of other youngsters at Victoria station in the rush hour. It has since transpired that the young man was 15, that rival school gangs were having a fight and that he was chased into the station, which he hoped would be a place of safety. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as these people, who clearly had no shame, went for him at the ticket office in full view of commuters and tourists. Because there’s usually a large police presence at possibly the busiest mainline station in London, a lot of the youths involved were picked up quickly and found to be in possession of a number of weapons including two knives. They were tooled up for a big one. At the time of writing this, 19 of them have been held for questioning. I was still getting my head around that horrible event when this morning I heard about a 17 year-old youth who became another victim of the knife. He was attacked at around 2am in a park at Stamford Hill, North London. Apparently he was an aspiring footballer. He may have been at the start of this weekend, but not anymore. We’re nearly at the end of March, not even the first full quarter of 2010 and there are already five dead children through knife attacks. Compared to other places in the world it may be small potatoes, but to us, one dead child is one too many. We are now left wondering if it’s going to be 2008 all over again where we had a grand total of 30 dead by the time the year was over.
Because I’m Officially Old™ I don’t have the mind of a teenager, but I try and remember when I used to be at school. Fights have always happened, inside and outside of school. It’s nothing new. I remember rival groups meeting up at parks for fights. There would also be individuals, from different schools or in different classes within the same school who’d get ready to square up. News of the fight would spread like wildfire among pupils who would then be the teatime audience at whatever scrap was happening that week. They’d be screaming: “fight! Fight!” like a baying crowd at a cage fight. I don’t think I ever remember knives being used. They proved their mettle by going organic, using their fists and/or feet to cause damage. This was literally old school. I’m neither advocating, nor glorifying fighting amongst children. I’m just stating what it used to be like. There were bloody noses for sure, but no one died. Now a fight between youths in London can lead to an early grave, because they feel the need to tool up to prove their manliness in a fight.
There’s something very wrong here and although I know most children are just getting on with living and doing well, there are enough of them on the opposite end of that spectrum to be of real concern. And it is a real concern, because it affects our children and by extension, whether you’re a parent or not, the rest of us. How do we reverse this current trend? Maybe it’s just the age we’re living in, but do we have to accept it? I’d like to know what teenagers and young people are like in other countries, if anyone is willing to tell me. How’s the interaction with adults? How’s the schooling? And where’s their place in society? Any solutions would also be welcome.