Let's work together to give young people and families a chance

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The increase of knife crime is worrying and I see it getting worse, statistics support this fact.

Government and agencies need to engage perpetrators and their family to understand the dynamics. I do not want to be informed of the usual solution i.e. increasing the number of police officers or building more prisons. We all know more bobbies on the beat will have an impact but this will only lead to more arrests during a time when prisons are overcrowded and at a time when the number of prison officers has reduced. 

Besides, the fact is more than half of ex- offenders reoffend within the first year, so we already know prison is not the answer. 

I am urging them to put young people and their families on top of the agenda. We need more understanding of what goes wrong, is there a pattern, what interventions can be put in place rather than try to seek answers from only one perspective. I believe the government should set up structures that enable perpetrators and victims’ families the platform to work together to steer this forward. 

I was probably like you until everything changed on 16-08-2016 when I got the news. I, like you, would watch the news report of yet another youth dead because of knife crime. I would of course immediately think of the wasted life, the family and how their death was so nonsensical - poor family I would say. I would then start to think about the ‘why?’ and ‘who?’. “Who did this, what kind of home did they come from what type of upbringing had they had and what a terrible monster they must be to have done this. None of this has changed following the news I received on that day apart from now that monster was mine. 

I know the family he comes from because it's mine, his upbringing because I raised him. The thing is my son alongside another three young people took someone's life and this should and can never be excused. He has been dealt with by the law and will serve his time but this will not bring back the person who lost their life, he will never get a chance to do anything but my son still does and will. 

Since this has happened I have nothing but guilt as his mother. I often ask myself what did I do wrong? I created this monster! I watch the movie of my life playing in my head. I see myself working hard to learn English and to complete a BA in Childhood Studies. I recall carrying baskets of freshly baked bread all day long when I worked in a supermarket to be able to pay fees for a Master degree in Youth and Community work so I could give my children a good life; swimming lessons, karate lessons, piano lessons and private tuition every week. 

My son wrote to the local MP when he was ten years of age to complain about the large number of rats in our local area. The MP thanked him for having such level of awareness at a young age and wished to see him as a politician when he grows up. So, what happened? was I to blame. I had to work, maybe I lost track when I had my last born. 

I soon realised the guilty thoughts would lead me nowhere the news still showed more stabbings, more families grieving, more mothers weeping. I know I created someone who was going to do great things; give back to society, maybe become a doctor, a lawyer, a computer programmer, a vet, a politician or a carpenter. 

This is when I decided to start this petition. If I had somewhere to seek advice and support for us as a family he may have had a chance, the young person who died would have had a chance.

Please join me on this journey to create the change we need and make a brighter future for our children and our communities.