Let's be clear, we are not "drowning in a tidal wave of youth violence and knife crime". However, there continues to be irresponsible reporting happening, shaping public opinion and alienating young people in the process. With that said, we can't ignore that youth violence is the third leading cause of death for young people in the UK. One argument is that death in such circumstances can occur because people are unsure of what to do in an emergency. Crucially, targeted work - with those who are most at risk of being both perpetrators and victims - can help to reduce the prevalence and consequences of youth violence.
StreetDoctors is a national network of medical students and junior doctors working to reduce such incidents of youth violence occurring. They teach young people at high risk of violence, emergency life-saving skills and the true potential medical consequences of violent injury. Here people's attitudes to violence are challenged.
For some young people there is a perception that it is safe to stab someone in certain areas of the body and, it has been argued, many young people are unaware of the potentially life-changing impacts of a non-fatal stabbing. It involves promoting a positive mind-set through mentorship, enabling the past of young people to not define their futures.
The charity educates young people who are likely to witness violent incidents how to call for help and what to do before professionals arrive. It is common knowledge that young people are significantly more likely than the general population to be both victims and perpetrators of violence. They may be caught up in situations where violence feels like the only option.
Young people have shared their experiences of taking part in such focussed sessions:
- 93.4% of those surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that at the end of the session they understood the consequences of violence
- 94.0% of those surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that at the end of the session they knew what to do when someone was bleeding or unconscious
- 85.9% of those surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that they would be willing to act in a medical emergency where someone was bleeding or unconscious.
Sean Creaney is an advisor at social justice charity Peer Power