#LIfeorKnife

We are living through unprecedented times, not only brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, but also by another equally familiar and deadly disease; everyone is susceptible to it, anywhere, at any time, but unlike coronavirus, the young are most at risk. We know it as ‘youth violence’, frequently involving a knife or bladed weapon. ‘Knife crime’, is the lethal, indiscriminate scourge of our times, has been with us for many years, continues to grow exponentially and has infected us at a national level.

Unlike coronavirus though, we already have the antidote and we urgently want to save families, friends and communities, from the devastation of losing a loved one, to knife crime.

Vigilant, caring parenting is at the heart of our fight against knife crime, because parents can be the most powerful, positive influence in a young person’s life. It is the most important job that we will ever undertake, and it can also be the most difficult. The feelings of a ‘loss of control’ or being unable to cope with outside negative influences on your children are common, but never be afraid to ask for help, especially if you notice a sudden change in their temperament, behaviour or friends.

If someone's life is in danger dial 999

The James Brindley Foundation is actively supporting West Midlands Police #lifeorknife campaign. We believe that parents and carers, can provide the most significant contribution to reducing knife crime and as a consequence, to saving lives.

The Symptoms:.

  1. They have become aggressive and/or withdrawn from the family and/or school.
  2. Their school or college is reporting worrying changes in behaviour, academic achievement and/or attendance.
  3. They have lost interest in their hobbies or interests and other positive activities.
  4. They stay out unusually late, without permission or giving a reason and are vague about where they have been and who they have been with.
  5. They have stopped seeing old friends and started hanging out with new ones.
  6. They are secretive about the contents of their bag, bedroom drawers, pockets.
  7. They are defensive if you ask if they are hiding anything.
  8. Their attitude has changed about carrying knives/weapons. Eg. justifying it by saying people carry them for self-defence and they think it makes them ‘cool’.
  9. Items have gone missing from the kitchen, tool-box or garage.
  10. You have found a weapon hidden amongst their possessions.

Knife related homicide is at its highest level since 1946, when records began and the curve that describes the rise, is still pointing upwards.

Now is the time to have frank and honest conversations with your children about knife crime, and particularly, about the dangers of carrying a knife for “personal safety”.

The Facts:.

  1. If you carry a knife, you are likely to use it and to become a victim of stabbing.
  2. There is no ‘safe’ place to stab someone. People can bleed to death in under 30 seconds.
  3. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases the likelihood of taking risks.
  4. Consequence – possession of a knife, bladed or pointed weapon, carries a prison sentence up to 5 years.
  5. Police can stop & search you without a search warrant if they suspect you are in possession of –
    • Drugs
    • A weapon.
    • Stolen goods.
    • Alcohol.
  6. Consequence –  If you are caught carrying a knife at school or college, it will be reported to the police and may result in permanent exclusion.
  7. Consequence – If you use a knife and you kill someone, you can receive a life sentence.   
  8. Consequence – If someone is injured or killed in your presence, you could be prosecuted and convicted of murder under ‘joint enterprise’.
  9. Consequence – A prison sentence will impact the rest of your life in a very negative way. Having a criminal record when under 18 yrs. will negatively impact future education, volunteering, work and travel opportunities.
  10. Young girls carry knives too, sometimes to ‘store’ for their male friends, out of a sense of misguided loyalty. The police will treat this as they would for a boy carrying an offensive weapon.

How to Start a Conversation

Believe that you will make a difference, because what you say, think and feel is important to them.

Getting started…

  • Find a quiet time and a bit of privacy. If home is crowded, you could talk in the car, walking the dog or on the way to the shops. It may help to avoid times when you know they’re likely to be tired or hungry.
  • Reassure them that they can be honest with you and let them know you’ll support them without judgement – no matter what.
  • Show them factual information or a relevant video clip resource that will help conversation to flow and encourage two-way communication.

Be a good listener…

  • Your child may be reluctant or scared to talk at first – it’s a difficult subject.
  • Be patient and try not to react straight away to what they tell you. Let them talk as much as they want to first.
  • Encourage them to share their fears and worries.
  • Sharing your own fears can help – tell them how much you worry about their safety and their future.

Use facts not opinions…

  • They might not think that you know what you’re talking about so a little preparation can really help here.
  • Use hard-hitting information on knife crime and its consequences. 

Be clear about false 'bravery'…

  • Raise the point that walking away from confrontation or a fight is the smart thing to do.
  • If someone pulls a knife on them, the safest, wisest thing to do is to walk away.
  • In ten years, no one will remember that they walked away, but if they ‘stand their ground’ the consequences could last a lifetime, or even end someone’s life, including their own.

Let them know how it could affect you and the rest of your family…

  • Encourage them to consider who they’d be affecting if they get involved in knife crime.
  • How do they think you, their grandparents or their brothers or sisters will feel if they’re arrested or get hurt or die?
  • If they use a knife on someone, others could come looking for them at home and this could put other family members in danger.

Draw on personal experience…

  • Your child may feel you have no experience of knife crime or the challenges they face.
  • Are there any examples from your own childhood that you can draw upon?
  • Has there been anything in the news recently or something that’s happened locally that you can refer to?

Suggest fun activities…

  • Explore their interests and aspirations together. Sport, music, cinema, photography, health & fitness, the world is their oyster!
  • Investigate those opportunities for safe hobbies and activities locally.
  • Investigate local clubs and associations on-line and through your local council.

How to Report Concerns:

  • Call 101 and report to the police.
  • Report anonymously, through ‘Crimestoppers’ on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
  • If anyone is in immediate danger, or if a crime is being committed, call 999 immediately.

Talk to us...

You may discover some things about your child that concern you. Try not to react, stay calm and ask for support….

Contact the James Brindley Foundation now, for expert, non-judgemental help and advice, in confidence –

Tel: 0121 752 2610. Email: talk@jamesbrindleyfoundation.co.uk

Currently, The James Brindley Foundation is unable to respond to urgent, out of hours calls and emails, until the next working day.

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