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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Poverty and the young - search for knife crime solutions part 3

ANOTHER solution area worth exploring is the alleged severe and demonising way we treat young people in Britain. By punishing those who have yet to learn to be an effective part of the country, their community, we make them more dysfunctional - and we fear them more when they don't conform. And then (in the UK) we criminalise them, arresting them for, say, hanging out. In Finland they take a different approach by working in a proactive way, working a system of systematic care for their young... while the UK is pretty roundly condemned across the world for its attitudes to youth.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has remarked on 'the general climate of intolerance and negative attitudes towards children, especially adolescents, which appears to exist in the UK, including in the media, and may be often the underlying cause of further infringements of their rights'. Interesting and thought provoking, possibly indicating poor government rule, poor childrens policies + politics, poor parenting across this nation, poor environments many have to live in, and clear prejudice + resentment among adults towards young people.

Adults seem to be afraid to look in the mirror, transferring their hidden psychological ills and failed lives and communities on to 'the young' for simply walking about. That said, maybe adults are merely a product of their difficult backgrounds as they grew up and this 'dog-eat-dog' work environment that many of us seem to bound up in. Sometimes I think some existence in this country - especially when caught up in drunken violence and street, gang + knife crime - is what is meant when life is described as 'hell on earth'!

A final most noteworthy issue in my reflections on developing solutions to knife crime comes from, among others, the World Health Organisation. Apparently, obvious poverty is not linked to violence; in fact, it's relative deprivation that is the causal link. The WHO reports that rising income inequality in Europe has resulted in an increase in numbers of murders.

And that, bearing in mind the current strong focus on tackling dodgy bankers, bullying businesses and the super-rich, makes one applaud the political and media drive to nail down those corrupt and flawed elements of capitalism that are making everyone's lives worse.

WHO reports: "Overall, good evidence indicates that violence among young people can be prevented through the organised efforts of society... And 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 behaviour once it has already emerged."

Interesting - have you noticed there are many medical conditions for young people these days? Maybe an unspoken drive by world medics to manage the murder / violence risk? Very speculative, I guess, but food for thought. 

Anyway... starting to concluding this reflective mini 'essay', good progress has pretty obviously been made highlighting the issues of knife crime and other violence to the country. And there are clearly many individuals and groups (especially those directly affected by knife crime) who have worked in local communities - and are active now - to make a difference for the public good. It is relatively clear that some reductions in knife crime have been made, at least at times. Without doubt, many are motivated to solve the problems of violence.

And so, where to now...? 

Real in-roads must be made to drive down the average violent deaths carried out daily on British streets... from two a day by, say, a third (that would be a reduction in killings of about four or five a week). Can we do that by 2020 or sooner?

That would be a real success measure of initiatives started around the start of this millennium. Don't know to be honest; feels like an ambitious goal - but no politician or government has shown the public courage, commitment or initiative to set it, as far as I have observed, so maybe it's left to the knife crime and anti-violence campaigners to do so. We can but try. Onwards...

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