Barking MP visits school for knife crime discussion
- Credit: Barking Abbey School
Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge has visited a school to discuss knife crime with pupils.
Students in Year 8 at Barking Abbey School invited the MP to visit as part of their citizenship project, think global act local.
They chose the topic of knife crime as they felt it is a serious issue affecting young people in the area.
Sameer Khan, a pupil at the Longbridge Road school, said: “It’s really common in Barking – most of the crime you see here is gang violence.”
Dame Margaret said: “It was great visiting Barking Abbey School and hearing young people’s thoughts on knife crime and possible solutions.
“I remain frustrated by the deep cuts made to local and particularly youth services in the borough by national government.
It is vital we provide young people with fresh opportunities and an alternative path to gang culture and violent crime.”
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The pupils said boredom and a lack of after-school activities were partly to blame for gangs.
Divine Olupitan said: “There should be more after-school clubs we can attend because some people have nowhere to go - they just stay on the streets and that’s how they get involved with gangs.”
Citizenship teacher Naznin Bawla said: “Margaret’s ideas are in line with what students think – she asked them how many of them go home straight after school and hardly any of them did.
“It’s the root cause of not having anywhere to go as a safe place that leads them to joining gangs or taking part in crime.”
She praised the MP for comforting one pupil who became upset when retelling her experiences.
The children also said schools should do more to support children who are excluded.
“Lots of people who join gangs have been excluded - they have nowhere to go and gangs are willing to take them in. They should have more contact with school so they can be helped,” said Kareemah Yunus.
Dame Margaret was impressed that the pupils had put together a petition to pressure the government to do more on the issue.
“She said signing the petition could be the solution,” said Norma Saltibus.
The youngsters agreed that issues around knife crime are complex – Bukurie Popova said that some join gangs out of fear.
“If a lot of people are telling you to join this gang, you don’t want to say no just in case something bad happens – you basically have no other choice,” she said.
Pupils said that increased stop and search, hidden CCTV cameras and after-school clubs for young people could all help combat the problem.