Staying street-safe in the face of knife crime

When you know people who have been stabbed or who carry knives themselves, the fear of becoming the next victim can spread through a community like a virus.

Being afraid of walking down your own street or going to your own school has become a reality for many.

Reports of stabbings are at a 3-year high with a 6% increase on last year in England and Wales according to the Office for National Statistics.

It understandable that in neighbourhoods heavily affected by knife crime an unspoken fear can often lead to you feeling like you have no option but to ‘protect yourself’ by carrying a knife.

However, carrying a knife makes you more likely to become a victim and perpetuates the cycle of violence. The more knives carried by people on the street, the more likely it is that someone will pull a weapon in an argument or use it in an attack, even in self-defence.

Watch here as some young people speak out about how fear of knife attacks is affecting their lives, from the BBC Panorama special, Knives in the classroom

It doesn’t have to be like this.

You have the right to live your life without feeling unsafe, being able to go from A to B without looking over your shoulder or worrying that the next knife attack will involve you or a loved one.

But carrying a knife won't help. There are other ways to protect yourself.

Here are some strategies on staying safe so you can feel more secure and less afraid of knife crime, wherever you live:

Don't carry

Some young people think if you carry a knife then it will provide protection, but statistics show that if you carry a knife or weapon then you are more likely to end up being hurt. It is also illegal to carry knives and other weapons.

If you are scared for your safety – talk to someone, a parent, teacher or youth worker for example. You can also contact organisations such as Childline and The Prince’s Trust.

You can also dial 101 for the police, or 999 if you feel you are in immediate danger.

Look out for your mates

People might carry a knife for many different reasons, including feeling unsafe, feeling unsupported by adults and authority figures, or wanting to feel 'in control'. But carrying a knife doesn't make you safer... in fact, it's more likely to put you at risk.

If you're worried about a friend being at risk, talk to them. If this doesn't work, you can talk to your parents, teachers or youth workers. It's not snitching, it's trying to keep them - and others that you care about - safe.

You can also look after yourself and your friends by travelling in groups in areas where crime is more common.

BBC Panorama Knives in the Classroom is available on BBC iPlayer.

Where to find support

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, either as a witness or victim of crime, you can visit Victim Support for practical and emotional support in England and Wales, or Victim Support Scotland and Victim Support Northern Ireland.

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