View from a college: We must commit to tackling violence

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 July 2018


Nothing is more shocking for a college community than the death of a student. The senseless loss of a promising life is very hard to deal with. I know this from my own experience.

These cases are rare but they usually highlight wider problems. Every grieving family and every devastated friend is an urgent plea for us all to do something, whether about gun crime, knife crime, inequality, criminal exploitation, mental health or the many other pressures which can put our young people at risk.

Our college is a place of ambition, of hope, of joy and life; the very things which have been stolen from the young person we’ve lost.

We are also a place of safety, of respect and of non-violence and such losses are an offense to everything we stand for.

So what can be done? Just as the causes are complex, so are the solutions. Any single response feels inadequate and there are no quick fixes. I think we need change at every level of society:

We need to be there for our young people; as family members, teachers, friends and neighbours, taking an interest in their lives, celebrating their achievements, supporting them and looking out for them as they face the challenges of modern life. Adults of all kinds need to be involved in young people’s lives – understanding, guiding and mentoring rather than staying aloof.

We must not give up on anyone.

Those drawn into criminality or violence are also victims. They will need support if they are to find a way out and start making a positive contribution.

We need to invest in young people. Over the past decade, public spending on youth provision, youth work, policing and education has been drastically cut.

With more resources we could do so much more to show our young people that they are a precious and valued part of the future of our society, rather than being a problem to be managed.

All of this requires a new commitment and new policies which place young people at the heart of all our plans for a better society.

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