Knife crime – victims are getting younger

Knife crime is not on the increase in Britain – but its victims are getting younger.

There have been a lot of headlines recently about knife crime in Great Britain. Over a dozen teenagers have been killed by knives in London so far this year, which is the kind of crime spate that is generally unheard-of. What knife crime does exist, we associate with cities such as Glasgow, or the rougher parts of Manchester, not with the nation’s capital.

But the fact is, violent crime is still decreasing in the UK. It’s been decreasing steadily for over a decade. What skews the statistics is that the victims are getting younger. When a middle-aged man cops it outside a Glasgow pub, it doesn’t make the headlines, but when a youth who was in a Harry Potter film is murdered, it shocks everybody.

Knife crime occurs because knife-carrying occurs. And teenagers carry knives because it makes them feel safe. We all know this is idiotic, but how is the matter to be addressed?

It made me think back to when I was I was a teenager. I carried a knife every day of my life from the age of 13 to the age of 18. My weapon of choice is sitting on my desk right now – a Sheffield steel letter opener with a blade about 6 inches long. Although designed for ripping open envelopes, sure as eggs is eggs, it would kill you if you got it in a major organ.

The reason everyone carried a weapon back then was the Yorkshire Ripper, and it’s difficult to explain to anyone who didn’t live through it quite how this serial killer could hold a whole area of Great Britain in fear. For five years, girls tried to go everywhere accompanied; you never took short cuts; you walked home with friends, in groups; and if you ever found yourself alone, you walked out in the middle of the road rather than pass by a hedge or a parked car, or a garden into which you could be dragged.

Did carrying my knife make me any safer? Of course not. Sutcliffe topped his victims from behind, with a ball-pein hammer, and a petite teenage girl was not then, nor now, any kind of match for an able, athletic, full-grown man. But did it make me FEEL safer? Absolutely. It’s only with hindsight and maturity that you come to realise it’s all rubbish. What children need to be taught, says Karen xx of the Strathclyde XX, is how to walk away.

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