Youngsters’ fears of stabbings revealed as Youth Parliament debates knife crime
Youngsters told of their fears over knife crime tonight as the UK Youth Parliament held a series of debates in the Commons chamber.
Hundreds of teenagers packed the green benches to hear warnings over soaring levels of blade violence on the streets.
Telling of kids arming themselves for protection, Imogen White, representing Essex, said: “Thousands upon thousands of young people are living on a knife-edge, fearing for their lives and turning to a violent weapon just to feel safe in their local communities.
“It affects every single one of us and our constituents.”
She told how three years ago she returned from buying a bar of chocolate to find a young man had been stabbed in a neighbouring street.
“I can still recall the fear I felt that night,” she revealed.
“The knife-crime epidemic is crippling our nation, changing our perception of what it is to feel safe, and unnecessarily taking too many young lives.
“We simply cannot allow this to continue.
“The lives of young people who carry knives are being put at risk.
“This is obvious – but what about the ripple effect, the many more young people who are affected by these horrific stabbings – their friends, their cousins and their siblings?
“As it stands, all young people are at risk – and the catastrophic effects last a lifetime.”
Essex MYP Isabel Bottley told of a 16-year-old boy called John who was stabbed to death recently in South London.
“That boy was the same age as myself and perhaps many others of you in this room – and that is no way for a life to be taken,” she said.
“It’s a terrifying epidemic throughout London paralysing youth with fear; fear to go to school and leaving school – branded as ‘stabbing hour’ – and fear to go to the park or even leave their own street.
“In February 259 knives were seized within one week – that is a week.
“One hundred and eighty-three of them were by teens and they were arrested for carrying knives.
“So we ask the question – why carry?
“I quote from a boy aged 15 from South East London – ‘Boys carry blades because they want protection from each other’.
“What kind of society are we living in where people have to carry knives as they want protection from each other?”
Kellen Hadfield, representing Redcar and Cleveland, linked knife attacks to gangs.
He said: “One in 10, 10 to 15-year-olds know a member of street gang, and one in 100 are members of one.
“These very gang members are over five-and-a-half-times more likely to carry a knife than their non-gang member counterparts.”
Other topics debated included homelessness, mental health, equal pay and votes for 16 and 17-year-olds.
Praising the youngsters’ contributions, Commons Speaker John Bercow, who chaired all the debates, said: “At such turbulent times it is vital that the voices of our future are heard – and the fact that over a million people voted for the
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