Express & Star

Key advice that all parents concerned about knife crime should take on board

One of the biggest drivers among young people is fear. Illegal dealers selling weapons, including knives, on social media to underage teenagers is still a “really concerning picture” for the police.


Anoushka Dunic, training programmes manager at The Ben Kinsella Trust, advises parents. Here are some key questions parents will want answers to:

How should parents approach the conversation?

“Before we start, make sure it is the right time and place, this may mean making sure the environment isn’t distracting and your child feels relaxed and safe,” said ms Dunic. “Making sure you have enough time to have the conversation, things might get emotional and so we want to ensure we don’t have to leave the conversation before our child is ready.

“Sometimes, it can be easier to have these conversations whilst doing another activity, like going for a walk or whilst driving in the car. It may also help to check in with your own feelings too – are you feeling anxious about the topic, if so, it may be useful to learn about the law on knife crime.”

Dr Julius Elster, senior lecturer and course leader for BSc Youth Studies (Hons), at London Metropolitan University, agreed and added: “It’s also a good idea to encourage critical thinking by discussing the root causes of knife crime, such as peer pressure, social inequalities, and lack of opportunities.

“Teach children problem-solving skills and emphasise non-violent conflict resolution strategies, as well as the importance of seeking help from trusted adults or authorities if they ever feel threatened or unsafe.”

What about the wider impact?

It’s about making them aware of the personal consequences.

Ms Dunic says: “Carrying a weapon increases the risk of them being injured themselves. They could go to jail for up to four years if they’re found in possession of a knife, even if they’re carrying it for someone else. They will get a criminal record. In a worst-case scenario, they could end up using the weapon and seriously hurting someone. Help them understand that knife crime not only affects the person who carries the knife and the person who may be seriously harmed, but it also has a massive ripple effect on the families, friends and communities impacted by that event.”

How can you support your teen?

Parents should try and have a rough plan of the types of questions they want to ask their child, but be mindful of being flexible as the conversation may go in directions you may not have prepared for.

“It’s really important to listen to our children, non-judgmentally and empathetically. It’s also important to let them ask questions too and give them time to answer any questions you may have. Be realistic, sometimes the conversation might not go as expected and that’s OK Let your children know you will always be there for them and try again another time,” says Ms Dunic.

What if they carry a knife?

If you’re worried that your teen might have friends who carry knives or might possess one themselves, it’s crucial to address the situation promptly and delicately. Signs to look out for include changes in behaviour, secretive or evasive actions, sudden interest in weapons, or unexplained injuries. Make sure that you pay attention to any unusual behaviour or changes in their social circle. Keep an eye out for signs of aggression, involvement in fights, or sudden withdrawal from family and friends. To initiate an open conversation with them.

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