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Youth Perceptions and Experiences of Knife Crime

As of the year ending March 2019, knife crime in the UK was higher than it had been in the last 9 years, with over 47,000 reported cases across England and Wales. This project aims to identify the reason for the rise in youth perpetrated knife crime based on a number of factors. 

Youth Perceptions and Experiences of Knife Crime project

Researchers

Research background

This project attempts to explain the rise in youth perpetrated knife crime have tended to focus upon risk factors for youth violence (Funk, Elliott, Bechtolot, Pasold, & Tsavoussis, 2003), such as: demographic factors (11 Million, 2009; Brennan & Moore, 2009; Gliga, 2009; Grierson, 2019), parental or peer influence (Schreck & Fisher, 2004; Gliga, 2009; Farrell, Henry, Mays, & Schoeny, 2011), substance misuse (11 Million, 2009), exposure to violence (McMahon et al., 2012), mental health (Shetgiri, Boots, Lin and Cheng, 2016), special educational needs and school exclusions (MOJ, 2018). However, very little is known about the general beliefs and attitudes of young people towards knife crime (Funk, Elliott, Bechtolot, Pasold & Tsavoussis, 2003).

Attitudes are believed to influence behaviour (Funk, Elliott, Urman, Flores & Mock, 1999), which may facilitate aggression (Funk, Elliott, Bechtolot, Pasold & Tsavoussis, 2003). Therefore, attitudes favouring the use of knives may be associated with perceived benefits of knife-crime, such as increased status and reputation, and are perceived to be justifiable (Slaby & Guerra, 1988; McMahon et al., 2012). Additionally, beliefs may normalise the use of weapons and aggression (McMahon et al., 2012); more so during adolescence where young people are less likely to consider the consequences to their behaviour (Romer, 2010). Therefore, adolescents tend to act more impulsively, and their beliefs are highly influential in determining their behaviour (Werner & Nixon, 2005; McMahon et al., 2012).

Current interventions designed to reduce knife crime in schools are dependent upon changing attitudes of potential knife crime perpetrators (Funk, Elliott, Urman, Flores & Mock, 1999). Therefore, there is a need to understand general attitudes and beliefs held towards knife crime violence within the populations these interventions were designed for (Funk, Elliott, Urman, Flores & Mock, 1999), in order to improve and develop current intervention methods (Funk, Elliott, Bechtolot, Pasold & Tsavoussis, 2003).

Research aims

The aim of this research is to develop an understanding of the general attitudes and beliefs held by young people towards knife crime.

Projected outcomes 

By collecting general responses we may observe trends within general attitudes and beliefs held regarding knife crime. The results of the study may then be used to suggest which populations may need specific types of interventions i.e. more tailored approaches and may also inform current interventions.