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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Keeping your child safe from knife crime

You can play an important role in stopping knife crime becoming a part of your child’s life. Knowing the law, talking to your child about the dangers and looking out for changes in their behaviour can help keep them safe.

Know the law

Before talking to your child about knives, you need to know the facts:

  • it is illegal for anyone to carry a knife if they intend to use it as a weapon – even in self defence
  • police can search anyone they suspect of carrying a knife
  • carrying a knife could mean being arrested, going to court and getting a criminal record, or even a prison sentence

Knives in school

It is a criminal offence to have a knife or other weapon on school premises.

Schools are able to ‘screen’ all pupils for knives at any time, without consent, even if there is no obvious reason for suspicion (screening is when an electronic ‘wand’ or a screening arch is used to find metallic objects). They can also search any pupil for a knife without consent if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion, or call in the police to conduct a search.

If a pupil refuses to be searched or screened, the school can refuse to have the pupil on the premises. If this happens, it is seen as an ‘unauthorised absence’. This can affect you, as all parents have a legal responsibility to make sure their child attends school.

If a knife or other weapon is found on a pupil, the police will be called and it is likely the pupil will be arrested.

Your responsibility

All parents are responsible for their child’s behaviour. If a child is excluded from school for persistent bad behaviour, or criminal behaviour like carrying a knife, then the parents can be given a Parenting Order by the courts. This is designed to improve the child’s behaviour and make the parents take responsibility for their child’s behaviour.

Talking to your child about knives

The best way to stop your child getting involved with knives is to talk to them about the dangers. This may not be easy, as they may not want to talk about it, but keep trying as this is the first step to keeping your child safe. You should remind them that by carrying a knife they are:

  • giving themselves a false sense of security
  • potentially arming an attacker, increasing the risk of getting stabbed or injured
  • breaking the law

Keep a look out

Sometimes there might be obvious reasons for you to think your child is carrying a knife – like a knife going missing from the kitchen. However there are other more subtle things that you and the parents of your child’s friends can look out for:

  • school’s not going well, or they don’t want to go in to school at all
  • they’ve been a recent victim of theft, bullying or mugging
  • they have a different network of friends who may be older than them

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