When you watch the video it won't take long before you notice that there are no professionals or adult leaders involved in Mark's Story. Why then are we asking you to use these materials in your professional and adult leadership role?
Knife crime has fallen dramatically since the No Knives Better Lives programme began and researchsuggests that educational work has been particularly effective at making a difference.
However we can't be complacent. We need to continue to reduce levels of violent crime and contribute to ensuring Scotland is a good place to be young and grow up. Mark's Story gives us an insight into how things can easily go wrong in young people's lives. These tools and techniques have been developed to support young people to overcome the obstacles and choose a positive pathway into their adult life.
One of the benefits of the No Knives Better Lives campaign is that it is a resource for workers and volunteers from a wide range of professions, backgrounds and experiences. Therefore it is important that we all work to a shared set of principles and approaches. Sticking to these will give you confidence and consistency in delivering the Mark's Story learning activities with the young people you work with.
The activities are designed to be flexible and can be completed individually, with a partner or as part of an organised training session.
While working on NKBL interventions with young people we ask you to adhere to these three essentials:
1. Young people choose to participate
2. The work must build from where young people are
3. It must recognise the young person and the worker as partners in a learning process
Either as an individual or with your colleagues, complete the worksheet (below) by thinking about the setting you work in and how you will deliver the Mark's Story learning activities. Fill the worksheet in to answer the following question:
What is it about your work context that will help you or hinder you in applying the three principles?
Think about the following:
- If you normally have a formal role with the young people e.g. as a police officer or a teacher, how will it be made clear that they can opt out of these particular activities?
- How easy is it for the young people to feel like equal partners in the learning?
- What is the young person's previous experience of violence and crime (both as victims and perpetrators)?
- What do you know about violence and knife crime in the area you are working in?
- If you work in an unusual setting such as on the street, how easy is it to engage in learning?
- Do you have sufficient time with the young people to do this well?
- How old are the young people - are they old enough to be exposed to this content?
- Are you aware of any young people with additional support needs in the group and how will they be met?
Remember that NKBL is a preventative resource. We would like young people taking part to feel more confident in themselves and more resilient to risks they face in their communities. We also want you to feel confident about delivering the resources in a positive way. Mark's story is poignant but isn't done to cause alarm or distress. We want young people to realise they are part of the solution. However be aware that it may upset some young people and have strategies in place to plan your intervention and to deal with any matters which arise.
The No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) campaign first began by targeting areas in Scotland where there were high recorded incidence of knife crime and violence. In more recent years the campaign has become available Scotland wide. Naturally there are differences in the nature of knife crime in different parts of Scotland. Each local authority and all of the public and voluntary organisations working with young poeple in Scotland choose how much they want to engage with the NKBL campaign. With that in mind...
Imagine you are the head teacher of a school where there is consistently very low incidence of knife crime. You attend a community safety partnership meeting where they are proposing not to take part in the NKBL campaign due to their excellent record on crime. Think about how you respond.
You can engage in this activity in a number of ways:
- If you have a large group of workers, split into two smaller groups and allocate one group to come up with all the arguments for opting out of the NKBL campaign and the other to come up with all the arguments against opting out.
- Allocate roles to individuals e.g. Local Councillor, Secondary School Head Teacher, Primary School Head Teacher, Social Justice Youth Worker, Community Safety Officer, Campus Cop or School Link Officer, Head of Youth Services etc.
- Use it individually to think more clearly about why you want to use the NKBL resources in your role and context.
- Mind map a list of the benefits and disadvantages.
- Discuss to what extent doing NKBL activities can prevent knife crime and if there are other alternative measures.
Remember there is no compulsion on any authority or any individual to take part in the NKBL campaign. Where the risks of knife crime have always been low, it is likely that they will remain low. Nevertheless we hope that anyone working with young people will see the wider benefit of these resources and be able to adapt them to fit their local context.
Here we will introduce you to different scenarios that you can explore for yourself or discuss with colleagues where, when and how you would use the Mark's Story learning activities (see worksheet below).
Use the worksheet provided to explore different scenarios you might face so that you can plan the best way to introduce Mark's story into your own practice.
There are no prescribed answers. It's important that you draw on your own knowledge and experience to make sound judgements. The most important thing is that you get to know the young people you are working with and that you make sure you are adhering to the three essentials (see above). Here are some other good practice tips:
- If the group is completely new to you, it is good to spend time getting to know them before embarking on Mark's Story.
- Keep positive
- There will be information that you are required to pass on if it is disclosed to you (e.g. suspected child abuse). Make sure young people know that and follow the guidelines set by your employer.
- Be friendly and respectful.
- Being funny is good, but make sure the joke's on you not the young people you're working with.
- Don't discipline individuals in front of the group. Be discreet and take them to the side. Stay calm, clear and consistent.
- If the group are a very far removed from knife crime and are strongly opposed to it, this might not be for them!
- Work with a partner if you can. If something comes up, one of you can go and deal with it. If you dry up your partner can step in. You can share tasks and you will each connect with the group in different ways. You can also learn from each other and give moral support.
Remember that these scenarios are based on real situations which can arise when working with young people. Once you have looked at the scenarios provided you are welcome to use the worksheet to think through your own work situation. This worksheet will be useful to revisit any time you find yourself working with new groups or in a new situation.