Here are the headline findings from Gary Younge’s article on ‘knife crime’:
Knife carrying on the rise?
- Between 2014 and 2016 the number of children carrying knives in London schools rose by almost 50%, while the number of knife offences in London schools rose by 26% (Metropolitan police 2017).
- Centre for Public Safety: In London, ‘the number of victims of youth violence and knife crime injuries have been on a steady if fairly gradual upward trend, and are now back to where they were five years ago‘.
‘Knife crime’ in the news
- The term ‘knife crime’ has only recently entered popular use:
- 2000 – only mention of knife crime in national press and London Evening Standard
- 2003 – 24 mentions
- 2008 – 2,602 mentions
- Post 2008 – huge decrease in mentions
Why does this matter?
- ‘These statistics bear only the vaguest correlation to the frequency of knife crime – which peaked in 2011, by which time the media had begun to lose interest’.
Why is the reporting so far from the truth?
- ‘National data on the number of children and teens killed by knives in any given year is not publicly available’.
Ignorance isn’t bliss
- ‘As a nation we are conscious that there is something out there known as “knife crime”, but as yet we lack any coherent or enduring national response‘.
- ‘Without accessible official data, or well-informed discussion, our understanding of the problem is cobbled together from a mixture of personal assumptions, media representation and political projection’.
Knife crime as a social construct
- ‘Knife crime” is a construct. It does not simply mean, as one might reasonably expect, crimes committed with knives. It denotes a certain type of crime committed by a certain type of criminal in a certain kind of context: It is a crime committed by evil kids – not kids who do evil things, but kids who are quite simply evil’.
Young black male thugs?
- Youth Justice Board research of 32 London boroughs, illustrated that when other relevant social and economic factors were taken into account, race and ethnicity had no significance at all. Crime is more prevalent in poor areas, and since black people are disproportionately poor, they are disproportionately affected – as perpetrators and victims. It’s class – not race or culture – that is the defining issue.
- Ministry of Justice: the number of young people entering the criminal justice system for the first time nationwide is at the lowest rate for a decade.
- The proportion of children who say they have tried drugs halved between 2001 and 2014 and those between the age of 11 and 15 who had tried alcohol is now at its lowest since the National Health Service started asking in 1988.
- The Metropolitan police last year revealed that the overwhelming majority of children and young people who carry knives are not gang members. Many are just scared and carry them for protection.
- ‘Take the construct as a whole and you have the ingredients for a tabloid-induced moral panic, in which young black men, who reside outside our basic moral norms, roam crime-infested, hostile cities in pursuit of hapless victims’.
- According to a recent Unison report, between 2010 and 2016 £387m was slashed from youth services; between 2012 and 2016 a total of 603 youth clubs were closed.
- Last year, research by the thinktank CentreForum revealed that these mental health services turn away, on average, 23% of the children referred to them for treatment by GPs, teachers and others.
Hopefully everyone will agree that the trip to the University of Sussex gave you all a taste of university life but most importantly, two fantastic sociology lectures. Personally, I was particularly riveted by the first lecture by Dr Ben Fincham. Using Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler and in particular, Iris Marion Young (who he claimed is a “genius”), he really broke down gender to highlight how masculinity offers males an advantage in life and conversely femininity imposes limits on what most women can achieve. For Young the example of how many girls throw is the perfect example of how females are socialised into acting in an inferior way – throwing a ball badly. There is nothing genetically predisposed that means a female should throw a ball like a shot put but this is something that is taught.
Another good example of this is how males and females sit. Many males stretch out or sit with a wide posture, they effectively own the space around them. On the other hand, females often sit with their legs crossed or together, so unlike the men, they are inhibited and are filling as little space as possible. Again, this is an example of gendered learnt behaviour and cleverly encapsulates the limitations of femininity.
Here is the Vice magazine article that Ben (The Professor of Fun!) mentioned: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/i-spent-a-day-with-the-professor-of-fun-how-to-have-fun-as-a-young-person-hannah-ewens
The second lecture delivered by Dr Paul McGuiness was also very interesting. Discussing Bentham’s panopticon prison he utilised Michel Foucault to help him consider how these ideas could be applied to contemporary society. For example, it could be argued that with greater governmental powers to monitor internet usage many British modify their behaviour for fear of being watched. This is crucial to Bentham’s panopticon prison idea with the central guard station being positioned in the centre of the prison with very small slits for the guards to look out of. Thus the prisoners could not know for sure if they are being watched, therefore they would have to regulate their behaviour just in case they were.
Also, remember that Jaques Donzelot applied the ideas of Foucault to the family. He argued that government policy could be considered a form of state control over families because surveillance is taking place. For Donzelot, a policing of families is taking place because doctors, teachers and social workers are all implementing these policies and to control and change families.
Dr McGuinnness also considered the role of prison. Is it there to punish or rehabilitate inmates or does it exist to deter the public at large. Interestingly, using a Marxist perspective he argued that if capitalism was replaced by socialism perhaps prison would be unnecessary…
I can highly recommend the documentary, ‘The House I Live In’ which I watched on Netflix recently. It explore the “war on drugs” in the U.S.A in a critical and thoughtful manner and is full of useful information for your upcoming exams…
#In addition to discursive markers, critical links help you evaluate the previous point/views/theories/evidence (A02 at A level). These will illustrate that you are attempting to evaluate. You could also use some of the following expressions to help you structure your essay answers:
- An alternative theory to…view…was developed by…who…stated that…..
- A major criticism of the…view is….
- A major weakness of the…theory is….
- Whereas the…view focuses on…the…view explores….
- Analysis may stretch further when examining….
- Although the…theory is supported by a variety of evidence, certain evidence contradicts the theory
- A different explanation of…. Has been offered by…
- A major strength of the…theory is….
- Once a paragraph has been introduced, the following points may help you structure the paragraph. A paragraph must contain the following features…..
- It should be attempting to make one point
- It should begin with an opening sentence, which expresses the main point; the opening sentence might well link with previous paragraphs.
- Support sentences should follow. These support sentences should include…. An example if applicable. In addition, a brief mention of further examples could be included to broaden the scope of the main point.
- Finally, the paragraph should end with a concluding sentence. This may well clarify your main point and can help lead into the next paragraph.