The continuing problem of knife crime and the ‘gangsta’ lifestyle on the streets of London has moved beyond epidemic status and become a full-blown disease.
It is becoming an all too common situation. On an almost daily basis, Londoners awake to the news of yet another life being taken as a result of knife crime. In the past week alone, there have been eight incidents in the London area where knives were used, two of which were fatal. The murders of Andrew Jaipual and Yemurai Kanyangarara are truly horrific and something needs to be done now to prevent further tragedies occurring.It is all too easy for the general public and government to blame the parents and the education system. It is too easy to lay blame with the music industry and hip hop culture as a whole. Where the blame lies specifically is a grey area, and differentiates between each individual circumstance.
Laying blame with any one factor is naive, but growing up in South London gives one an idea of what is to blame and how best to tackle the disastrous situation.Growing up on and living within a council estate has proven to be somewhat of a mixed blessing for myself. I am unfortunately greeted with all the wonders of the “ghetto” each time I leave my doorstep, but I am also able to see where things have gone wrong, and what changes can be implemented. I have witnessed first hand what drives many teenage boys in particular to a life of gangs, crime, and unemployment, and have managed to develop my own theories.In my experience, many of these boys take to life on the streets purely through boredom. They have nothing to do, nowhere to go, no hope in life and so are drawn to the ‘gangsta’ lifestyle, which promises respect, quick money, big money, and opportunities (albeit those of a questionable nature).
Many of these boys rightfully believe that society has turned their back on them, so they retaliate by turning their backs on society.This has clearly been evident in my little corner of South London. Growing up, nearly all of the boys were polite, well behaved, and had dreams. They also had somewhere to go every afternoon and evening to release pent-up energy and anger, and feel like they were part of a community. For many of these boys, the youth club on the estate was the closest they had to a real family. But then the council decided to sell the youth club to a property developer and the problems began.Suddenly, they found themselves without a safe place to go after school and naturally gravitated towards the park, street corners, and stairways on the estate. They had nothing to fill their days up and eventually found themselves experimenting with cannabis.
Spending so much time on the estate, they saw the older teenage boys driving flash cars, splashing the cash, and commanding respect and became seduced by the life of crime.Unfortunately, many of these boys are now on a first-name basis with the staff at the local police station. Some have spent a period of time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. A couple are now dead. And I strongly believe that were it not for the closure of the youth club, this would not have happened. They would have realised that they do have something worth living for. Something worth believing in.
They would still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations.I think one of the wisest things the current Coalition government could do is to reintroduce youth clubs into deprived areas. Implement careers advice centres into these youth clubs, as well as education advice, homework help, tutoring, and motivational talks. It would greatly help this lost generation find their way.
They need role models, they need aspirations, and they need inspirations. Simply shrugging the problem off as “the parent’s fault” is adding to the problem.It is painfully obvious in some cases throughout the country that the parents do indeed need to accept a portion of the responsibility. However, as has been previously discussed, there are several contributing factors towards this lifestyle.
Lack of parental support and guidance, combined with a lack of education from school and persistent peer pressure coincide to create a tragic lifestyle of drugs, crime and desperation. The majority of “the bad boys” I grew up with have all admitted full responsibility for their actions but cannot deny the underlying contributing factors.I admit that there is no quick fix to knife crime. But I honestly believe that if the government and the general public act now, we can prevent the lost generation from either producing the Lost Generation II, or from dying out. The majority of these teenagers are intelligent, and have or had bright futures ahead of them. How is it right that the government took these futures away from them?