I Fear My Child is Carrying a Knife. What Should I Do?02 Mar 2020
As a grassroots youth practitioner, I get calls, texts, social media messages and emails from parents regarding what they can do if they suspect their son or daughter are carrying a knife. I would say that by taking the time to talk to your children, giving straight-forward instructions, being willing to work with other parents or agencies (such as schools, places of worship, youth clubs etc), and importantly, not feeling shy about getting support, is the best way forward.
1. Talk to your child
Have a general conversation with your kids, and see what they think about carrying a knife – perhaps you may have seen something in the news about knife crime that you think you could discuss. Starting the conversation is very important. Let the young person know that they can come to speak to you at any time. Let them know you love them, care about them and want the best for them.
2. Give them clear and honest advice
Give your child clear advice and have an honest conversation with them. They may be scared or unwilling to talk about it, but you must allow them to feel safe and heard. Build your relationship with openness and trust. It’s important to be clear that your child does have a choice, even when they think they may not. Let them know and remind them that by carrying a knife, you:
- have a false sense of security
- could be arming your attacker, increasing the risk of getting stabbed or injured
- are breaking the law, and can face the consequences of doing so
3. Work together and realise that you’re not alone!
Speak to your children’s friends’ parents. If you are worried, they probably are too and it’s always good to share your concerns with those in the same boat as you. Other parents may see your child when you don’t, and you see their child when they don’t. By working together you can keep an eye out on their behaviour. It’s important to consider other members of your family who could lend a hand in talking to your kids about this, like an uncle, aunt, cousin or an older sibling who the child can confide in.
4. Become aware of the signs
Be prepared to work with other parents and with your child’s school to raise awareness about this issue, and about how to tell if a child is carrying a knife. Most kids decide they need to start carrying a knife because they feel threatened.
Signs to look out for that may suggest your child is feeling this way are:
- School is not going well and they have no desire to go into school at all
- They have been a recent victim of theft/bullying/mugging
- Different network of friends who may be older than your child.
Remind your child that they should always walk away if confronted with the threat of violence.
5. Don’t shy away from seeking support
There are many organisations out there that are willing to help if you have concerns about your child. Some of these even offer one to one support. Good organisations to contact are:
- Parentline Plus – a national charity that works for and with parents.They give advice on all aspects of parenting and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call free on 0808 800 22 22 or log on to
- Victim Support – this national charity can help you and your child if they have been a victim of knife crime. Go to www.victimsupport.org or call 0845 30 30 900.
- Mothers Against Violence – a voluntary group comprised of mothers who have been affected in some way by gun and knife violence. Go to www.mothersagainstviolence.org.uk
- Mothers Against Murder and Aggression – a national support group for families bereaved through murder. Go to www.mamaa.org
- KnifeCrimes.org – an online knife crime resource offering advice and support. Founded by Ann Oakes-Odger the site is also a forum to share and read about parents and expert views on knife crime in the UK. Go to www.knifecrimes.org/