These Are Some Serious Times

“Dont gain the world to lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver and gold” – Robert Nesta Marley

Eleven years ago, I was sat in my car with a friend overlooking Croydon and the surrounding areas.

The visibility was not great that night. It eventually started to pour down with rain, almost like the heavens wept for what was to come.  My phone began ringing but I kept ignoring the calls because I was in a deep discussion with my friend at the time.  Eventually I answered with rolled eyes and a slight huff.

‘Where are you?  Come home!’ the caller said calmly.

‘Why, whats wrong?’ was my reply, still with slightly annoyed from being disturbed. 

‘Something has happened to Sian, come home now!’.

I don’t remember much of the in-between, but what I do remember is seeing her lifeless body laid out on the hospital bed.

A 17 year olds body that had dreams, aspirations and probably never even considered she wouldn’t make it to her 18th birthday.

Sian Simpson was fatally stabbed because of a situation that had nothing to do with her.

Her killer has walked free, and all the other perpetrators of the situation have the convenience of living their lives.

How Sian lost her life was truly a tragedy and for every teenager that has lost their life due to knife crime, I’m sure the tragedy is felt no less.

Why do some of our children lack the moral compass to not value another life?

Back when I was a teenager, stabbings were very few and far between.  Your biggest fear was that someone would be severely beaten up and not that there would be a loss of life.

I believe that we have another generation gripped by fear. It’s either I kill you or you’ll kill me first.

The circle of revenge and the need to be seen as ‘the hardest’ ensures that these killings continue.

Im not sure if our young people are really conscious about the impact of what they are doing.

I do not believe that we have countless amounts of cold-blooded murderers that we call our children, but what we do have is a cesspit of environmental factors contributing to this problem.

My thoughts are that there are many people responsible for whats going on, however we cannot point one finger in any one direction.

Let us not be naive to one fact. There’s a whole operation of organised crime that isn’t even based in the UK, but is acting like a puppet master.

The drug barons do not care or have any sense of responsibility for whats going on in the countries that they spread their poison.

I cannot think of one country where drugs are traded and children are not groomed into being part of the process.  They’re cheap labour, hold most of the risk and are readily available.

We were all told as children never to accept sweets from strangers, the same concept still applies to our teenagers and drug selling. Neither the paedophile or ‘top guy’ cares about them.  They only care about what they can get out of them.

I can guarantee more children would be alive right now, if there were no drugs to sell. 

What Im going to say may have the potential to make some of my readers feel quite uncomfortable.

If you are a recreational drug user, whether it be cannabis, MDMA or cocaine; how certain can you be that you too are not complicit in the problem?

Your demand is directly contributing to the supply of the product.  How many children’s lives have been lost as a result of a few grams of the drug you have received?

Please don’t mistake my comments as passing judgement, but we cannot scream for change whilst simultaneously contributing to the problem by buying these drugs.

Every time you smoke a spliff, pop a few pills or sniff a bit of cocaine you are contributing to the problem. Fact.

If you date a drug dealer and/or financially benefit from their business, you too are complicit in the demise of our children.

If you are even loosely involved in trading narcotics, you are wholly complicit.

Now, none of the above may apply to you, your friends or anyone in your direct circle.  However, as parents we must have and maintain a village mentality.

I have a daughter myself, and I worry about how things will be when she gets to secondary school age and we are a decade away from there.

However, my cousin lost her life 11 years ago and not long after there was spike in knife crime murders. Who’s to say the same pattern may not repeat itself in the next ten years?

What are the things that I can instil in my child to ensure that her chances of being a victim of knife crime are zero to none?

The truth is, I can do all the things I want to make my daughter a happy, contented and compassionate human being.  I can bring her up to have manners, be kind and value life but I’m fighting a losing battle if other parents are not doing the same.

Parenting is difficult and when you have all the extra financial challenges of raising children.  Its hard to weigh up whether you need to always be accessible to your children or put food on the table. We are bullied daily into believing that we are not good enough through the media and advertising.  Adults succumb to the allure of new and expensive things, because essentially we believe these things will make us feel better.

If we can fall victim to the materialism trap, how can we expect impressionable children not to do the same?  Their peers are wearing the latest clothes and trainers, make up, gadgets, bags, shoes, games and mobile phones.

We are living in a time where wearing your wealth is actually more important than actually having it in your bank account.

We want people to believe we are better off than we really are because we fear judgement and rejection ultimately.

Everything must be quicker and bigger than ever before and that is okay.  But not at the ultimate cost of a life.

There are many conversations and movements aimed at tackling this problem.  

Please tune into our podcast where I host the discussion on these issues and potential solutions.  

Joining me will be guests who work with these young people on a daily basis.

Episode 1 is split into four parts and covers the perspectives of a Social Worker, Senior Gangs Practitioner, Criminal Defence Solicitor, Teacher and a Educational Psychologist

Episode 1 Part 1 – Overview of the issues relating to the London Knife Crime & Serious Youth Violence issue with Natalie (Social Worker) & Joseph (Senior Gangs Practitioner).

Episode 1 Part 2 – A continuation of the above discussion where we explore the solutions.

Episode 1 Part 3 – Law & Order Edition – We have a chat with Michelle (Criminal Defence Solicitor) who gives us an insight from a Legal perspective.

Episode1 Part 4  – The Education Edition – We are joined by Joseph (Senior Gangs Practitioner), TBO Art (Teacher) and Dr Ivey (Educational Psychologist).  We look into how the education system is failing our most vulnerable young people and explore the journey from school failure you gang affiliation.

I believe the children are our future, but only if we can keep them alive.

Take care of yourself and our children