How Do We Solve the UK’s Fatal Knife Stabbings Epidemic?
I think it best to commence with a quote from the UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2017.
‘Knife crime has killed 35 children and young people so far this year. This year, 2017 is set to be the worst for fatal stabbings of young people since 2008, when 42 died. Both figures are well above the trend of the past 40 years, which puts stabbing deaths at about one person a fortnight.’
There have been over 50 fatal stabbings so far in 2018; and it is feared that crime could rise to its highest level for over ten years. Unfortunately, most of us continue to do our utmost to ignore this grave matter, hoping it will fade away over time. Furthermore, not only are there are no quick-fix solutions, but the stark failure of punitive measures is clear for all to see.
I asked a cross section of people the following question;
‘What in your view is the underlying cause of fatal knife stabbings in London?’
Below are some of their answers;
“Black people have been conditioned to hate who they are to start with. Add to that the fact that many black kids these days are growing up with no fathers or father figures, and you end up with a generation of young men who are lost (good fathers are moral compasses in my humble opinion). When you’re ‘lost’ you’re more vulnerable to influences and thus the cycle continues. Personally, I think that Western society has been structured that way. It’s never been structured in a way that favours black people. I’m not saying there are no good kids from single mother homes but I’m sure 98% of kids who commit these crimes have no fathers.
Half the fathers have run away or are in jail. The father is the single biggest influence in a child’s formative years.”
“Wrong desires, lost young people, lack of understanding of life, its value and its worth, lack of identity, lack of respect for humanity, the world, and the one who governs the world, Zero sense of unity, caught up in a fake world and environment.”
“Lack of family structure and education: “
“An absence of hope and vision. This leads to an alternate reality that’s based on street cred and gang culture. In that world, knives and guns enhance credibility, but as guns are more difficult to get hold of, and most wanna be gangsters more readily have access to knives, they become the weapon of choice. I suspect many may not intend to use them but peer pressure and ego lead to the stabbings and killings. The solution would be in prayer and creating genuinely attractive opportunities for the black youth. The opportunities and hope would have to be in the language that these young black people understand and identify with. No point in opportunities that they don’t like or fully identify with.”
“Well they don’t talk much about black on black crimes as there is probably more of them than white on white crimes? Is it stigmatism? Are people ashamed to talk about it? Are all majority of crimes committed in poor areas whether it’s white or black? Crime is crime. We have to be careful talking about this as it seems to always end up a race issue. It shouldn’t be but it’s people’s mentality.”
“Ganga and drugs. More often than not in poor urban areas”
“Let me start from what worked. I read recently about a black guy who runs a program to mentor black kids and gets them into public schools. The case study was on four who came from housing estate type backgrounds, got scholarships, went to different public schools and then on to uni.
Each of them is now in a stable job and doing alright. So, seems to me black kids need to be given a better shot at making something of themselves in England and in America. When they don’t the outcome is violent kids with little hope for the future, who then get sucked into gang culture and crime.
In our case here the kids are getting drawn into fraud and scams. We’re more into ostentatious displays so the kids are getting rich the wrong way so they look good.”
“I wouldn’t put it solely down to race. Yes, young black men are persecuted in many ways, but there is more than enough opportunity in this country to make something of yourself. The way forward has to be education, and the youth of today to seize the countless opportunities that are out there.”
“Not race based. More cultural based. And it’s happening cos it’s too easy to get away and there are less youth clubs and stuff to take kids off the streets when parents are busy making skunk or don’t care.”
“Education is failing lots of poor and disadvantaged members of our society, which then leads to unemployment.
The age of Instagram’s imaginary world of cars, money, properties, planes, boats, lavish holidays! kids are sold the wrong notions then recruited for them to become foot-soldiers. When a young person commits a crime and ends up being sentenced to prison it doesn’t seem to help as they are likely to offend again; so again, education and training needs to be done while they’re inside. They’ve been failed in school education and again in prison – talk about continuous punishment!
Politicians across the country /capital should put their differences aside and listen to the affected families to address this epidemic of knife crimes.”
“100 percent background. Indirectly through the influence of the media and society we perpetuate certain stereotypes and roles, preconditioned to act in a certain manner as a result of our environment. This is not to say we cannot rise above it. However sometimes it is easier to conform rather than perpetually struggle to resist your environment.”
In truth before commencing my research for this article, my view was that knife crimes are intrinsically a scourge of the black race. However, according to data collected by the Guardian as part of its “Beyond the blade’ investigation, at least three young lives will be lost every month of this year as a result of fatal knife stabbings. And apparently these heinous acts are not only synonymous with blacks in inner city London. Elsewhere in England and Wales, most of the perpetrators and victims are white.
The problem is a lack of available data. As a result, not only is it easy for politicians to more or less pretend the problem isn’t as bad as it really is, but it also enables them to fuel the gross misconception that these crimes are inherently the black man’s problem.
Unfortunately this misconception is strengthened by a reality that we all refuse to accept – that most of us are inherently racially prejudice in some shape or form. A society of different races, colours, and faiths living together in unity, love, peace, tolerance and kindness is not only my greatest desire but the driving force behind every single article or book I write.
No matter how much we claim otherwise, the truth is that our preconceived notions and opinions of other races and faiths are forever brimming just beneath the surface. Whether it’s as a result of upbringing, media, or negative experiences, racial prejudice is never too far away – be-it blacks believing most Caucasians are lacking in any spiritual grounding or belief, to Caucasians viewing blacks as mostly inferior or less educated, or Indians believing most black people are likely to be troublemakers in some shape or form, the reality is that we’re a long way from the harmony we’re led to believe we live in.
I recall holidaying in Ibiza with six African friends in 2001. There we were having drinks in a VIP lounge in Pascha nightclub when a couple of very pleasant young English chaps came over to say hello. I still chuckle whenever I remember the first thing they said to us;
“You guys look really cool. Are you DJs?” they asked, obviously mesmerised by my peroxide-blonde spikey hair and looped ear-rings (hey! I was young and on holiday – and I did look pretty damn cool!!).
Little did they know they were in the presence of some of the brightest minds on the planet (yes, myself included). But rather than take offence, we decided to humour them.
“No, we’re footballers,” we replied. And of-course they lapped it up.
In truth, they really were very nice chaps, and I’m sure they meant no offence at all. Indeed, we chatted with them for a good hour or so. But their initial comment nonetheless sums up the way in which different races, colours, and creeds are generally stereotyped.
Likewise, I can honestly say that some of the most loving, kind, and genuine people of faith I’ve met are actually Caucasians. And this is not a case of trying to protect myself with the proverbial ‘some of my best friends are……..’ line. I genuinely mean that.
As my boss often says, “We all have prejudices. And there’s nothing wrong with that; so long as they’re formed by personal experience, that’s fine. But if our prejudices are formed by what we hear from other people then there’s a problem.”
In other words we first and foremost need to address the issue of stereo-typing. For it is often the stereo-typing that leads to young people taking wrong paths – be-it black youths believing they can only get so far, or white youths in poor neighbourhoods believing life on the dole is as good as it gets. Such mindsets are formed as a result of what children are led to believe as they grow up – by teachers, parents, and society. Professor David Gillborne, of the School of Education, Birmingham University, painted a typical scenario during a paper he presented at a conference I attended a couple of days ago;
“A young Afro-Caribbean pupil and a Chinese pupil can both be told by their teacher that they are on course to get a C grade in their final exam. But the manner in which that message is delivered to each individual is very different. To the young black pupil, the teacher will say ‘you’re on course for a C grade. That’s really good’. And to the young Chinese student he’ll most likely say, ‘you’re on course for a C, but I know you can do much better than that’. The manner in which the message is given goes a long way towards determining the mindset and belief system of both individuals.”
The key challenge which needs to be faced head-on is that of education and mindsets.
Generally speaking, if a child grows up believing he or she is talented and capable of achieving great things, then it is quite likely he or she will succeed. However, if that same child is told from an early age that he or she doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, and hence can only get so far, then in all likelihood that invisible ceiling will gradually encourage him / her to give up and take the wrong path.
The solution lies in education and a reorientation of mindsets.
Children must be nurtured to believe they have what it takes to succeed, no matter their environment or background. And the responsibility for this lies with both schools and parents. Unfortunately, there are too many instances where the parents are either ill-equipped, not able, or simply not around to play their role. Hence, the greater responsibility lies with schools.
However, before we address the minds of our children, those of the teachers need to be re-oriented. In other words, teachers need to view all kids as capable of achieving success, regardless of race, colour, or background.
This is nobody’s fault. Well, we could blame the system but that only leads to an excuses mentality.
The initiative must come from schools and parents.
But the question is whether we care enough to make the necessary mindset and educational adjustments.