More than 60% of adults surveyed in South Wales during the school summer holidays are concerned children may become knife crime victims, reveals new research for Barnardo’s.
A YouGov poll of more than 100 adults in Newport reveals that 62% per cent of adults surveyed are worried children aged 10-18 may become victims of knife crime.
Similarly, 63% per cent of respondents surveyed believe children feel unsafe in their local area because of knife crime.
Almost 60% of those questioned said they thought children carry knives for protection because they feel vulnerable. A new survey of the charity’s staff working directly with young people reveals that 90 per cent of children who carry knives say they do it for protection.
Among the Newport adults who responded to the YouGov survey, 60% agreed that more safe places and activities for children such as youth clubs, sports clubs and community centres would make their area safer from knife crime.
The same number believed more police on the streets would help while 57% said schools should focus more on the dangers of knife crime and promote positive peer relationships.
Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s Cymru, said: “This polling shows most adults realize that knife crime is a complex issue. The answer does not lie in tougher sentences but in making sure our children and young people are safe.
“We want the Government to ensure children can thrive in their own communities; provide safe environments and activities for children, alongside more investment in neighbourhoods and services to combat poverty.
“We need to work together as a society to get a grip on this national crisis. Government needs to work with children’s services, educationalists, charities, social workers, youth workers, the criminal justice system and local communities to tackle the real causes of knife crime.”
Barnardo’s Cymru is currently working with 11 to 15-year-old’s at risk of getting caught up in gang culture and serious organised crime in Newport.
The charity is working with police and Newport Live on the Divert project. The aim is to keep young people away from crime through individual support, work with their families and diversionary activities such as sport.
As well as one to one work with those most at risk, workshops are also being run in secondary schools as part of a six-month pilot scheme funded by the Home Office through the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The results of the £100,000 project will be independently assessed by Swansea University before decisions are made whether it should be extended to other parts of Wales.
Last week a group of young people affected by knife crime delivered a letter and 12-point manifesto to 10 Downing Street which called for more investment in youth services and work to help communities tackle housing and unemployment as key to tackling increases in knife crime.
Zak Hall, 24, from east London, volunteers for Barnardo’s and was one of the young people who delivered the letter to Downing Street. They were accompanied by Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones who chairs the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime, which is supported by Barnardo’s and Redthread.
Zak, whose 15 year old brother was stabbed, said: “The government needs to re-invest in schools in order to tackle knife crime. Education is the only way we can broaden the horizons of the young people so they don’t go down the path of youth crime.”