Campaigner says kids brandish knives and wear balaclavas to 'look big' on social media

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Young people are damaging their life chances by sharing pictures of themselves brandishing knives on social media, says knife-crime campaigner.

The youth-worker meets kids as young as 11 who are carrying weapons and wearing balaclavas to 'look big' and 'get respect' on the streets.

But Emma Owen, who co-ordinates the No More Knives programme, says that often the kids are 'shocked' when police officers turn up at their door.

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Ms Owen explains: "They don't recognise there's a blueprint that's on the internet and it stays with them. Sergeant Dan Whittaker said often they find out who the person is in the balaclava, they knock of the door and find out it's a young twelve year old, very innocent, has no intention of using the knife but feels the pressure to look 'big'."

No More Knives is an educational touring programme that goes into schools to steer children away from knife crime and gang culture.

It is run by the Message Trust. Ms Owen and her colleagues use music to help get a positive anti-knife message across to youths and they work closely with the police.

"When police knock-on the kids often embarrassed and remorseful, and they change their ways and delete the posts [from social media]."

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Lancashire Police say that it’s an ‘upward trend’ for young people to carry knives, and want to spread the message that they are putting themselves at risk by doing so.

Sgt Dan Whitaker, from Lancashire's Violence Reduction Network, told Blackpool Gazette: “They tell us they’re doing it for their own protection, but statistics tell us that sadly it’s themselves that get injured by their own knife – it’s taken from them and they’re stabbed with their own knife.

No More Knifes visited five Blackpool schools in January, meeting 3,430 students, and finishing off with a sold-out gig in the Blackpool Tower.

The team shared testimonies, worked in partnership with the police to share facts about knife crime, and built relationships with the young people as they learnt the importance of saying ‘no’ to knives. 

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"One lad they met had got caught up into a life of carrying, and even selling, knives. He went into the No More Knives lesson, he heard about the devastating impact this can have, was struck by the powerful stories and knew he needed to stop. Afterwards, he spoke to his teachers and the police officer to get help and support so that he can continue to make good decisions!"