About us 

We support the right for young people to be safe from fear and violence, and provide the tools and resources to enable this.

No Knives, Better Lives (NKBL) is a Scottish national programme that aims to deter young people from anti-social behaviour and carrying knives. We work in partnership with young people and practitioners to understand and address the drivers of youth violence in our community.

Who we are

Who we are

NKBL is a collaboration between the Scottish Government and YouthLink Scotland—the national agency for youth work in Scotland. We’re a national initiative, delivered at local level with support available to any local authority in Scotland.

We seek to understand and take action on the causes and consequences of youth violence in Scottish communities. We bring people, knowledge and practice together to learn about what drives violence amongst young people, sharing information and resources.

What we do

What we do

Build understanding

We build understanding of the drivers and consequences of youth violence.

Build capacity

We build the capacity of practitioners and young people to take action to reduce youth violence in our communities.

Include voices and experiences

We work to ensure policy and decision making on youth violence reduction includes the voices and experiences of young people and practitioners.

Why we do it

Why we do it

Children and young people

We want children and young people to grow up feeling loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential.


We want everyone to live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.

Human rights

We want everyone’s human rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled, allowing a life free from discrimination

How we work

Our values are at the heart of everything we do

A youth work approach

We take a youth work approach which means:

  • Young people choose to participate
  • Our work builds from where young people are
  • Our approach recognises that the young person and youth workers are equal partners in a learning approach


We are evidence-based which means:

  • Our work is informed by high quality research, consultation and practice
  • We find out what works and share it with our partners to improve their work


We are rights-based which means:

  • We put young people’s rights at the centre of our work
  • We aim to empower young people to know and claim their rights

Children's Rights

All children and young people under 18 have specific human rights as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, otherwise known as the UNCRC.

Find out more about the UNCRC
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Who we work with

Young people in Scotland

We work with young people to better understand their lives, and connect them to the services and support they need. We want them to develop the skills to keep themselves and others safe while making sure their voices are heard to shape practice, policy and decision-making around youth violence.

What we do

  • Provide information
  • Develop interactive tools and workshops for young people
  • Develop peer support programmes
  • Support young people to be involved in shaping community responses to youth violence
  • Support young people to get involved in policy and decision-making

Short term outcomes

Young people:

  • Are aware of the causes and consequences of youth violence
  • Are aware of the steps they can take to stay safe
  • Are aware of the services and facilities they can access for support
  • Know how to participate and take a lead in the community response to youth violence

Medium term outcomes

Young people:

  • Consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control
  • Express their voice and demonstrate social commitments
  • Feel connected to their communities
  • Are able to access support and services that help to keep them safe

Practitioners who deliver frontline services for young people

We function as a hub to provide practitioners with information, resources and support, alongside young people’s experiences to help them better understand the drivers of youth violence, as well as the consequences.

Our support helps practitioners to engage young people in responses to youth violence in their communities, while keeping them up to date with policy, research and best practice. We also help practitioners initiate multi-agency responses to youth violence in their communities.

Policy context

The National Outcomes for Scotland includes a commitment to improve the life chances of children in Scotland and to ensure communities are safe from crime, disorder and danger. 

Addressing issues of youth violence and anti-social behaviour requires many different types of intervention at many different levels. NKBL is a primary prevention initiative that specifically addresses the issue of knife carrying. It is informed by and complementary to wider policy priorities and interventions that aim to prevent offending and anti-social behaviour (Preventing Offending for Young People: A Framework for Action) and to improve outcomes for young people in Scotland (Getting It Right For Every Child). 

There are two strands to the delivery of the NKBL engagement programme.

Strand 1

Communicating prevention messages

Using social marketing and youth work methods, we communicate information to young people across Scotland about the risks and consequences of knife carrying, positive decision-making and the importance of reporting knife carrying.

Strand 2

Capacity-building to support local delivery of prevention work

Working directly with local and national partners we develop and implement local approaches through training, resources and networking opportunities.

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