Knife crime is on the rise in MK – a fact we can’t ignore. In Celebrate:MK’s bid to educate youths that gang life is not the way forward, local anti-knife crime campaigner, UK garage music MC and poet Champagne Bubblee (real name Quinton Green) uses his latest column to explain the link between excluded students and a life of crime…
In last month’s issue of Celebrate:MK, I talked about social identity and why some of our youngsters are joining gangs.
There has been a growing concern in the Milton Keynes area and across Thames Valley recently, with drug and gangrelated activity on the rise across the region.
Reported incidents involving a knife or a bladed article have increased by 23% in the last 10 years. As a community, it’s important that we accept some culpability for the marginalisation of young people in Milton Keynes and further afield.
I recently spoke to BBC Look East about alternative ways to guide youngsters away from criminality and gang affiliation. I quoted Home Office figures and told them that many young people are almost predestined for a life of crime due to exclusion from mainstream schools.
100,000 students are excluded each year! 61% of those are likely to end up serving a prison term. That’s 61,000 young people finding themselves entangled in the Criminal Justice System and spiralling into a cycle of offending.
There is a pattern emerging that needs to be addressed. Students are increasingly being excluded for disruptive and problematic behaviour.
With that, austerity measures and spending cuts have crippled agencies that help excluded pupils to find a new school place. As we mature into adulthood, we gravitate towards groups that provide structure and offer us a sense of social significance.
Family, schools, friendship groups and sports clubs can help inspire positive thought patterns and open doors to opportunity. We often refer to these support networks as protective factors which directly counteract elements that lead to risk of criminal involvement or behaviour.
Exclusion from one or more of these groups can also lead to a sense of isolation. Some of our most vulnerable and at-risk youngsters may find themselves secluded, having to make pre-autonomous decisions in their most formative years.
We are seeing 100s of children and young people estranged from primary caregivers and/or dependants – lured by promises of “The Family They Never Had” and deceptive stories of lucrative ventures such as county lines.
As we have seen in the media lately, children as young as nine or 10 are being groomed into the world of drugs. In doing so they face violence, intimidation and risk to their lives.
These are just some of the reasons why early intervention, preventative work and forward-thinking initiatives should be a fundamental part of a positive approach to change.
An alternative route towards nurturing a social significance and empowering disenfranchised young people in our community.
Follow Quinton on Instagram @champagne_bubbler and @whoismrmilise, and follow Knife Crime Victim Support on Facebook. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.