The phenomenon of young people stabbing each other in our inner cities shocks the nation and raises the deepest questions about the society we have created. Violent crime has long been a political issue: for example the battle of statistics before the 2010 election hit the headlines and media coverage became a major talking point.
In April 2010 Mark Easton of the BBC announced that a Cardiff University study showed a decline in violent crime, based on the numbers of admissions to A & E Hospital departments. In his BBC blog Easton said: “The figures from the Cardiff study neatly track the downward trend in violence identified by the British Crime Survey (BCS), adding new weight to the argument that, for most people, England and Wales are less violent places than they were a decade ago.” This rebutted Conservative claims of a 44 per cent rise in violent crime since 2002. Britain was a safer place than popular fears suggested, all was well.
How those fears have returned now. Stabbing seems to have become a fashion, motiveless malignity. The stabbing of schoolgirl Jodie Chesney in Romford was not only a vicious crime but apparently done ‘for fun’ rather than sparked by a motive however dark. Some London schools are starting to patrol bus stops and areas where children meet after lessons, in order to spot troublemakers and gang members. There are even plans to start special schools that will deal exclusively with young people with a record of violent criminality.
Speculation abounds as to causes or conditions predisposing young people to engage in such evil.Gang culture is one. That is the sense of belonging that many miss and need is alternatively provided by close gang bonding and structure. Linked to this could be the drug culture of supply and consumption run by gangs and giving openings for gaining wealth and status.
Exclusion from school is being named as a factor fuelling gangs and stabbings. Politicians blame each other about public spending, austerity, and dangerously for our imperilled PM, the drastic cut in police numbers of 20,000 officers when she was Home Secretary.
Lack of a father at home is another factor mentioned, a cultural factor but also one encouraged by the ultra liberal governmental ethos since 1997 of melting down the family structure and encouragement of all kinds of contexts for child raising, away from the model of a mother and father. The so-called ‘liberal’ imperative in western society has not proved the way to heavenly peace, but rather to division, resentment and deep insecurity.
The state’s clear cold-shouldering of the churches as important social influences must also be brought into the dock for judgement. Black Pentecostal Churches in inner areas were really authoritative institutions for youngsters, as well as other denominations. Likewise the moral imperative of Christianity is of no interest to our ‘modern’ political elite, rather an embarrassment to its multi-cultural project. Churches and their faith do however matter deeply for the common good, and should be encouraged in their ministries in our inner cities as they engage with this form of nihilistic evil.