No quick fix solution to weapons in schools - XLP

Published 24 April 2014
(PA)

The Department for Education must work to address the reasons why young people are carrying weapons in schools, rather than simply pursue a policy of enforcement, a Christian youth charity suggests.

XLP warned there could be "no quick fix" to the problem as many young people carrying weapons in school are doing so out of fear and enforcement will not get to the root of the problem.

The charity was reacting to a recent Sky News investigation which found that 981 children have had weapons confiscated on school premises since 2011, at least 80 of them being primary school children.

According to the report, one in eight violent crimes involve school-aged children.

XLP said its work had brought it into contact with one youth who wore a bulletproof vest to school only to be stabbed in the neck just outside his school.

The charity said fear was just one factor needing urgent attention, as children carrying weapons are often growing up against a complex backdrop of poverty, family breakdown, gang involvement, and educational failure.

The result is an environment where violence is "inevitable" and the children feel it is "necessary" to protect themselves, the charity said.

XLP was lukewarm about guidance from the Department for Education allowing teachers to search pupils without consent, confiscate prohibited items, and use force to remove disruptive pupils, saying this failed to address the reasons why students are carrying weapons in the first place.

Instead, the charity recommends that schools provide better relational support for young people, such as through mentoring.

"We are sticking plasters over cracks if we think enforcement alone will solve the complex issues to way a young person may feel the need to carry a knife into a school," said XLP founder and chief executive Patrick Regan

"We need to look seriously and honestly at the context these young people are growing up in.

"We need to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with the issues that are causing youth and school based violence in the first place."

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