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    Volume 9 Issue 9 | February 26, 2010|

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Straight Talk

A Parent's Nightmare

Nadia Barb

"He pulled out a what?” I looked up from my book as I was not sure that I had heard correctly.

“Then the boy pulled out a knife”, continued my son “he was fine when his friends were teasing him but when Nick said the same thing he got angry and chased Nick around the room with the knife, although after a while he got tired and stopped. He even asked Nick if he could cut a bit of his hair off but obviously he said no...apart from that incident, the rest of the trip was great.”

By this stage I was not only horrified by what I was hearing but also the fact that my son appeared to be recalling the incident without feeling the same sense of total and utter terror that I was experiencing. As I was bereft of any speech, my husband stepped in and asked my son if the incident had been reported and if not it was imperative that the boys or, we, as parents should inform the school as immediate action was necessary.

Before I continue any further, I should give you a brief explanation to put this conversation into context and how we happened to be talking about knife wielding teenagers.

My son is part of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), which 'is a Ministry of Defence sponsored youth organisation in the United Kingdom. Its aim is to "provide a disciplined organisation in a school so that pupils may develop powers of leadership by means of training to promote the qualities of responsibility, self reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance". It is not a pre-service organisation...'. In many schools, children are encouraged to join either the CCF or the Community Service Organisation (CSO) so my son along with his friends signed up for the CCF.

They decided to join the army division and apart from weekly sessions, every few months there is a camping trip which the boys have to attend. What we were not aware of is that these training courses do not take place just with fellow school mates but also with other children from different schools as well. On this particular trip they had the misfortune of being put together with a group of boys that were not only rowdy but to my mind bordering on delinquency. According to my son and his friends the boys in question were from a part of London that is a rather rough area and kids feel the need to carry a weapon of some sort for protection. This piece of information was not in the least bit comforting to say the least. We have been told that this sort of behaviour is an exception and any person found disobeying the rules is immediately expelled from the CCF.

I am sure that many offences do not get reported to any authority as adolescents, boys in particular do not want to be labelled a “snitch” or “coward”.

What is worrying is that these days knife crime has become a growing concern in Britain and the majority of the victims and perpetrators of these crimes appear to be teenagers or young adults. In the UK, 'it is illegal to carry any knife if there is intent to use it, even defensively, as a weapon. Even if the knife belongs to someone else, such as a friend or a boyfriend, police can and will search someone if they believe they are carrying a knife. Police can also go into schools and search young people there, carrying a knife could mean being arrested, going to court and ending up with a criminal record or even a prison sentence.'

Despite all the efforts made by the government and police to curtail crimes where knives have been used, it is in reality very hard to control as we need only to look as far as our kitchen drawer to be able to acquire an implement with a blade of some sort. Gun crime is also prevalent but it is much harder for a youngster to get their hands on a gun than a knife.

As a parent living in a metropolis, there is a constant fear where you feel that all your child has to do, is be in the wrong place at the wrong time to become a victim of a violent crime. They don't have to be part of a gang or group to become a casualty. Whether the weapon is a knife, a gun or even a broken bottle lying in the street, the injuries inflicted can be equally devastating.

I was just reading yesterday how a shopkeeper was left lying in a pool of blood in his own store after being attacked by four teenagers. It appeared to be a robbery that got out of hand. The tragedy is that he was killed for a handful of cash, some sweets and a packet of cigarettes. I think that these days kids are so desensitised to violence that they have no concept as to the value of human life. If someone is intent on carrying out a felony or offence, I do not see them being deterred by a law which states you cannot carry a knife or gun. Any object can be used as a weapon. The weapon used in this particular attack was thought to be a hammer.

It is not just enough to pass laws to try and reduce violent crimes, what needs to be addressed is educating children and making the youth of today aware of the far reaching consequences of their actions.


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