Why are kids killin’ each other?
Written in 2019 - not solved in 2020
I am sick of politics. Sick of the news. Sick of our politicians sayin’ one thing then doing another. No matter how sickened I am by our current political state of play, there isn’t a day goes by when I don’t wonder why kids seem to be killing each other? With knives. On the streets of Britain.
The increase in knife crime in the UK
When our MP’s are slurping up expenses, voting every evening, why is this not on the political agenda? As a national emergency? Can we have a meaningful vote on something that is close to home? A UK wide strategy for knife crime? Shouldn't this issue be top of the political agenda?
There were 285 killings by a knife or sharp instrument in the 12 months ending March 2018, Office for National Statistics analysis shows. So far, in 2019, it’s higher again month on month. Fatal stabbings in England and Wales last year (2018) was the highest since records began in 1946. In particular, children aged under 21 are the highest group affected. Some influential people who can effect change suggest time and time again that social media is responsible for soaring knife crime.
Aem, no. Social media does not take a knife out and stab someone. People do that.
Social media increased by 15% between 2015 and 2017.
2017, it was revealed that 74 per cent of male respondents set up a profile on social networking platforms, an increase of six percentage point in comparison to the previous year. In the demographic group of the 16 to 24-year-olds, 91 per cent had a social network profile in 2015. In the same year 2015 to 2016, the two area’s of crime that increased were sexual attacks in the UK, up by 8% on the previous year and knife crime, which continues to grow year on year!
Britain's most senior police officer has blamed social media for the soaring rate of knife crime in the UK, particularly among children. After 13 Londoners were killed in two weeks, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said websites and mobile phone applications such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram were partially to blame for the bloodshed.
Speaking to the Times, Ms Dick said trivial disputes could escalate into violence "within minutes" when rivals set out to goad each other on the internet.
"There's something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to 'fight' very quickly," she said. She said that insults or threats online "makes [violence] faster; it makes it harder for people to cool down. I'm sure it does rev people up".
Police-recorded statistics - which picks up more "high harm" crimes - have indicated that the most serious violent crime is increasing.
The Office of National Statistics shows that along with the use of knives, sexual crimes of all type have exploded in the last few years. The use of all social media has also exploded, so you can see why anyone can put the two facts together and shout, cause & effect!
The biggest and really alarming effect is a 14% rise in police recorded sexual offences to year end March 2018. The police put that increase down to #Metoo movement, suggesting more people are coming forward? Saying that improvements in being able to report a crime are also a factor.
Sorry? A police report from 2015 – an 8% increase in sexual offences. Before #Metoo...
So tell me again why sexual offences have increased year on year for almost a decade!
The blaming of social media and its increasing method of communication is easy. Let’s face it, the social media companies don’t pay their fair share of taxes, so let them take the hack for it. And in the meantime the number of body bags being zipped up and driven to the undertaker's increases. In the UK by the end of March 2018 overall violent crime, it is alleged by the ONS, has decreased whereas knife crime has increased by 8% overall in the same set of statistics. Fewer crimes recorded overall but more violent crime by nature.
A & E Doctors say, the injuries we are treating are becoming more severe, and the victims were getting younger, with increasing numbers of girls involved. How heartbreaking is that?
Last year, a Home Affairs Committee report said police forces were "struggling to cope" amid falling staff numbers, and a leaked Home Office document said they had "likely contributed" to a rise in serious violent crime. Ms May, then home secretary, took the same approach as she does every time she speaks, denying any “cause or effect” between police numbers, budgets and knife crime.
Is locking the people up who commit knife crimes the answer?
In the year ending December 2018, 37% of those dealt with were jailed, and a further 18% were given a suspended prison sentence. The figures for 2008, when the data was first compiled, were 20% and 9% respectively. Over the same period, there's been a steady decline in the use of community sentences, and a sharp drop in cautions, from 30% to 11%.
Public anxiety about knife crime, legislative changes and firmer guidance for judges and magistrates have led to the stiffer sentences, although offenders under 18 are still more likely to be cautioned than locked up.
Well, no. The recent figures suggest since sentencing increased, so has the willingness to kill. Jail isn’t working as a punishment or a deterrent.
The ONS says one in four (71) of all victims (285) were men aged 18-24. The figures also show 25% of victims were black - the highest proportion since data was first collected in 1997. So 75% of victims are not black. Contrary to prejudicial media stories, knife crime is not a particular ethnic group thing across the UK.
Under 21’s only communicate through their phones, even when sitting at the same table, this can go some way to explain the use of social media within the context of knife crime, but doesn’t explain what it is the root cause.
Previously, a few decades ago, a conflict began as a bar room brawl. I would argue that is the same today as a chat room or a social media timeline. The expression used to be, “Let’s take this outside.” While a crowd gathered to watch, with pints in hand. Today "a like" on social media is the same, a comment and further duplicated by social media posts where users wind each other up using a GIF.
I write as someone who grew up in one of the most violent prone areas of the UK and watched as people; to be fair mostly men, took swings at each other after spending the evening winding each other up across a smoke-filled saloon bar. Back then, you didn’t win or lose, generally, within moments, the police turned up and everyone who could stand scarpered. Now it’s the same room, but that room is online, and the stakes are higher. Someone must walk away a winner and by the time the police arrive; two of them are in a car, and the ambulance was called first.
That’s not a criticism of the police; it’s a fact. There simply isn’t the manpower to deal with the escalating number of violent attacks, many of which are of a sexual nature.
So remember, while our MP’s are on an all-expenses-paid jolly in the Houses of Parliament. Voting this way and that in non-binding votes, which costs us an average of £600,000 a night in expenses for them, the same amount of money could have been handed to our police forces to pay towards more police to sort these issues out. A further sum of money could be used to educate all of our kids, in all ethnic groups, how to communicate online.
Instead of blaming social media the government should be embracing it. To educate and inform. Show our kids how to resolve and mediate issues using social media. MP’s can apply pressure on the social media giants by all means, but we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The internet is here to stay, as is social media. If we really are more intelligent than the technology we invented, then we have to teach our kids how to use it. Like all the major issues being ignored while we throw money at a vision of Europe or UK, the issues we face regarding violence is becoming more severe by the day, unique and exclusive to the UK. No backstop agreement required. Now we have to sort it out.