Knife Crime

In Knife Crime: A review of evidence and policy, authors Chris Eades, Roger Crimshaw, Arianna Silvestri and Enver Solomon discuss crime data pertaining to knife Crime . As stabbings continue to rise in the UK, the article reviews who is committing it, who the victims are and underlying reasons or causes for it. Statistics on knife crime has not been accurately recorded by law enforcement in the past, though the Home Office has recently made plans to improve recording of such crimes. Knife crime is investigated by the authors at different levels, from carrying knives to use in crime and ultimately, to use of knives in homicides. Investigation is then made into which sections or segments of the population are most likely to suffer from knife-related crimes. The authors then discuss current strategies used to reduce knife use in crime, such as police search, increased prison sentences, education and awareness activities and prevention activities. The authors cite challenges in obtaining accurate knife crime statistical data, due to inaccurate categorizing of knife crimes, exclusion of child respondents from surveys and exclusion of certain types of crime from statistical data.
The second article involving knife crime incorporates knife crime statistics into statistical data as a subset of crime. Eight of twelve research projects included in the report by Ben Marshall, Barry Web and Nick Tilley cite crimes statistics with the use of firearms. The report focuses more on why youth commit crimes, in general, focusing on lifestyle, socio-economic and parenting issues. Marshall, et al. explain challenges in obtaining knife crime statistics as well, citing inaccuracy in reporting and in determining what constitutes knife crime.
Both articles measure statistics of stabbings and murder committed by youth using knives. The articles also offer suggestions and theories as to why knife crime is increasing. The articles differ in the variety of research used and in their approaches to underlying causation for such crime among youth in the UK. Marshall, Webb and Tilley, of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, University College London take an approach that is more inclusive. They have combined information from ten different research projects in the UK, provided in a table indicating the project name, statistics provided, and date published. In 'Knife Crime' A Review of Evidence and Policy, Eades, Crimshaw, Silvestri and Solomon provide more in-depth information specifically involving knife crime, as opposed to knife crime as a subset of violent crime or crime committed with weapons, as in the former article. The latter also discusses how or changes in policy have affected or are thought to have affected the statistics of knife crime committed by youth in the UK.
Marshall, et al (2005) suggest that most violent crime committed by youth, including those committed with use of a firearm or knife, are gang-related. However, the authors find it difficult to provide an acceptable universal definition of the term gang. They also suggest that knife crime does not occur in schools and that "knife carrying is thought to be more common in youth clubs that in schools, due to schools offering some kind of protection" (p. 13). This is the opposite finding of Eades, et al. (2007) who claim that when children were surveyed about why they carry knives to school, the most frequent response was "for protection" (p.21). As children were not directly interviewed in the report statistics provided by the former authors, it is entirely more believable that children do feel threatened, depending on how much violence is likely to occur at school. There is also the consideration that many children must take themselves to an from school, where they may be likely to become victims of crime.
In fact, Marshall, et al. (2005) state that "Practitioners suggest that some young people carry knives with the knowledge and even consent of their parents. However, it must be noted that disapproving parental attitudes were not found to deter youth from carrying knives" (p. 13). This reinforces the view that youth feel threatened before, during and after school. School officials in many cases may not be as vigilant as they would like to think, in preventing school age children from victimization. Furthermore, Marshall, et al. (2005) state that "despite the number of individuals admitting to carrying weapons, the majority are never uses. The 2004 MORI youth survey suggests that 21 percent of young people in school admitting to carrying a weapon but never using one" (p. 14). Gang activity then, is not necessarily an underlying cause for youth carrying knives, as they might suggestion. The MORI survey, used in both articles, suggests that youth may carry knives for protection, with the permission or knowledge of parents, in some cases.
The fact that parents negative feelings about carrying knives does little to deter such activity, suggests that parents may feel a false sense of security regarding the safety of their youth at and surrounding school activities. Eades, et al. suggest that much of the knife crime involving youth as victims goes unreported or is not counted in some surveys. This suggests that youth do not believe parents are able to offer protection or address issues of youth victimization effectively. Parents who condone youth carrying knives may have a more realistic view of crime and victimization surrounding youth at and near school.
This does not mean that youth involved in knife crime as perpetrators do so purely out of delinquent or purposefully unlawful intentions. Some youth may indeed feel they are forced into neighborhood gangs for protection from others who could harm them. Once in a gang, youth may feel pressured into committing crimes. Sense of belonging and family is another reason Marshall et al explain for youth participating in gang activity that may lead to knife crime. In this Case, socio-economic factors and poor family relations are more likely to influence decisions youth make to participate in gangs. For those youth whose socio-economic status prevents them from attending schools that offer more protection, parental involvement may not necessarily be a factor in feeling the need for protection. Youths who become involved in gangs or feel they need to carry knives for protection are more simply victims of circumstance beyond what is perceived that they or their families can control.
For youth carrying knives to school for protection, a need is established then, for school officials and law enforcement to find solutions. Eades et al (2007) explain that new legislation allows for more power of school officials and police to search youth for weapons on school grounds. Unfortunately, youths who carry knives simply for protection, who have never used them, stand to become greater targets of victimization, or at least believe they will be. This does little to empower them in making the right choices. They may be punished by school or law enforcement officials, when it is discovered that they are carrying knives to school. Parents may be powerless to choose more protective school environments or assist in transporting their youth to and from school grounds, which, at least offers some protection off school grounds.
Both articles indicate that knife crime committed by youth have effects that are far-reaching, beyond current crime statistics. Not only do other youth feel they need to be protected, they may turn to gang activity and crime themselves. Other implications are possible poor school performance, in an environment where youth do not feel comfortable and are concerned about physical harm. This can lead to lower self-esteem, disrupted family relations, drug use and a host of other related problems. Though parents may not be able to take additional action to protect their youth, they should at least be more aware of issues their youth face at school and near school. Funding for education programs, awareness and other issues surrounding knife crime needs to include protection for those most vulnerable in and near schools, regardless of neighborhood or socio-economic status. The articles indicate that while survey data is important in providing insight into youth crime and victimization, it does little to help develop policy that will protect youth from knife crime and victimization.
References
Evidence and Policy, 2nd ed. Pp 1-28. Center for Crime and Justice Studies. Retrieved
Eades, C., Grimshaw, R., Silvestri, A. & Solomon, E. (2007). Knife Crime: A Review of Evidence and Policy, 2nd ed. Pp 1-28. Center for Crimean March 9, 2007 from http://www.crimeandjustice.org.
Marshall, B., Webb, B. & Tilley, N. (2005) Rationalization of Current Research on Guns, Gangs and Other Weapons: Phase 1. Pp 1-17. Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, University College London. Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.knifecrimes.org.

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Knife Crime 9.8 of 10 on the basis of 4305 Review.