2020 has seen major shifts that are going to cause huge socio-economic and cultural changes to society as we know it. This is no exaggeration. This is not the gentle nudge theory that change happens in almost imperceptible tiny stages. This is shove theory; sudden, shocking and urgent. So we ask ourselves, what happens now?
To recap about trends in knife carrying in Scotland and in violence in general. The trend was downwards with a 61 percent reduction over 10 years (from 2006-2016) in arrests for the handling of offensive weapons.
A number of factors are at play here including; violence reduction initiatives, education and prevention campaigns, early intervention for children in schools, trauma informed approaches to policing, and support for those wanting ways out of violent behaviour.
The context here is also hugely significant; relative economic and political stability (in Scotland) as well as cultural shifts in behaviour and technological developments such as phones and internet. Scotland is far less violent as a result.
However, problems remain. In our poorest communities, violence is harder to shift and statistics point to a hardcore older (late twenties/early thirties) group of predominantly men who are as often the victims as they are the perpetrators of knife crime.
These are some of the key questions that need answering.
And so to the post-COVID era. What can we expect to happen to our society with the inevitable rising unemployment and increased social isolation? Throughout history we know that economic downturns lead to social distress – increased poverty, rising crime, escalating violence – the potential for long term harm is great.
There are some short term things we can do to help though. We can look to immediate ways of enabling young people to keep themselves safe. Here at NKBL we are prioritising 2 key resources.
Firstly, our Brief InterventionsToolkit for practitioners, in particular Detached Youth Workers who are starting up again as we ease out of lockdown. This resource gives factual information and activities that can be facilitated at a social distance for when youth workers meet with individuals and groups of young people outside.
The second resource demonstrates how young people can keep themselves safe by advocating a bystander approach. Nae Dangerwas launched last year but is hugely relevant given the current situation where young people might be gathering socially and potentially in secret from adults. The toolkit gives great advice on being a good friend, tips for dealing with knife carrying situations and taking responsibility for yourself and others.
Our strategic response to enable practitioners to discuss and share problem-solving, is to develop an NKBL Community of Practice. Come and join us for our next event on 27th August and be part of this community. This is a time when we need to help each other out and support each other.
NKBL National Delivery Team