WHO estimates that violence is the third leading cause of death (and life-long disability) among people aged 10–29 years across the European continent and that 9 out of 10 homicide deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Violence affects disproportionally young people who live in poverty and deprived areas. 15 000 die annually. At Mother Helpage, we recognise that drug and knife crime in young people is not inevitable – it is preventable. We also want to challenge the assumptions that the youth is solely to blame. Such crimes are, in fact, the result of deeply rooted and complex social and economic problems facing society, predominantly, a lack of investment and opportunities for young people, exacerbated by systemic inequalities, including global economic dynamics and interdependencies between Global North and South.
In the UK, it is reported that young people carry weapons for self protection and fear, street credibility and respect, and/or to facilitate other criminal behaviours. Evidences show that gender, age and childhood experience are powerful factors, with males more likely to commit serious violence and carry weapons; weapon carrying peaking around the age of 15; and significant risk in young people who have experienced abuse, neglect, parental criminality and/or substance abuse, being taken into care; school exclusion and low attainment. Drug and Knife crime does not just affect the young person and their chance to lead a healthy and rewarding life. It is a huge cost to society in services. Behind the statistics, it is all too easy to forget that young people are key contributors and agents in the society of today and tomorrow. They have a great potential to contribute to change and advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities.
At Mother Helpage we work to reduce risk factors and enhance protective ones to lower crime among young people through cost-effective interventions across education, sports, mentoring, skills training, career orientation, etc., carefully targeted awareness campaigns, and local investment. Our programmes in the UK and across the globe are designed to meet the varying needs of young people and safeguard their well-being. Our drug and knife crime prevention initiative builds on the power of sports to foster social inclusion, tolerance and respect. We aim to help young people develop life skills and resilience, and shift behaviour and attitudes away from the culture of knives and drugs. Please help us make communities safer because every young person – everyone – especially the most vulnerable and marginalised, has the right to feel safe and reach their potential.