By Jessica Pham
On 16th July 2009, the Thurrock Youth Cabinet organised a day-long conference at the Culver Centre, South Ockendon, for students across the borough to consider in-depth the issue of knife crime. A hard-hitting drama production, speaking to bereaved people with first-hand experience of the consequences of knife crime and various activity workshops were all on the agenda.
Driving home the dangers of carrying weapons was one of the main aims of the day, whilst “focus groups” in the afternoon allowed youngsters to discuss other serious and sensitive issues such as ageism and sexual violence: is a woman who had accepted a lift, was drunk or had a bad reputation “asking for” sexual violence? It was unnerving to see how every student in the first focus group agreed: a myth, of course, for no one deserves to be raped. And here’s another myth: carrying a knife is a good form of protection – yet 1 in 3 knife related injuries are actually caused by the victim’s own knife.
On a more light-hearted note, activities such as basketball and film-production gave students a flavour of what could be brought into the borough, to ensure youngsters have more things to do. With the summer holidays just beginning, the cries from youngsters having nothing to do begin to circumvent; getting involved in voluntary work such as the Thurrock Youth Cabinet4 to organise events such as these not only keeps you busy, but lets you make a difference in the community and looks great on the CV. Raising awareness also plays an essential role in preventing knife crime: how would you like to hear from an ex-prisoner about what it’s really like in prison?
In the UK, the amount of “serious violent or sexual knife offences” that occurred last year equated to over 100 a day.5 And whilst some may argue that this is not an issue in our area, recent stabbing incidents around the borough6 could beg to differ.