Children's Rights and Knife Crime Prevention

We break it down for you using five articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework.

13 Sep 2018
by Orielle, Implementing NKBL locally, NKBL and youth work

You’ve probably heard about children’s rights but how do they relate to knife crime prevention work? We break it down for you using five articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework.[1]

Article 2 – All children have these rights.

This means that all young people have the same rights, regardless of their behaviour or actions.

Prevention is not just about direct intervention or singling out those young people we deem to be at risk. In our approach, we are focused on helping all young people to stay safe and changing social norms.

Article 12 – I have the right to be listened to, and taken seriously.  

We’re big advocates of working with young people as partners in prevention work. From peer education to simply involving young people in shaping prevention messages, there are loads of ways that young people can have a say in knife crime prevention.

There’s a risk that not listening to the experiences of young people will mean we make mistakes in running prevention work. Having open and honest discussions with young people about knife carrying could help you be more informed about the root cause and motivations they might have for carrying a knife. This can help you provide better holistic support for young people.

Article 17 – I have the right to get information in lots of ways, so long as it’s safe.

Young people want accurate and reliable information on knife carrying. Giving an honest account of the facts about knife crime and the consequences is an important element of prevention work. We provide information for young people on our website, through our social media channels, and via local practitioners.

Our new stock image project also focuses on how young people get information about knife crime from the media. The project aims to support wider prevention work by tackling social norms.

Article 29 – I have the right to an education which develops my personality, respect for others’ rights and the environment.

Our work takes a youth work approach meaning young people are supported to achieve their potential. Through engaging in youth work, young people are resilient, optimistic for the future, consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control. These aspects are important and transferable building blocks of prevention work with young people.

Article 40 – I have the right to legal help and to be treated fairly if I have been accused of breaking the law.

For young people who are already known to have carried a knife, prevention work is important for preventing future offending or antisocial behaviour. It is now widely understood that young people involved in the youth justice system are likely to have experienced significant adversity in their lives. Alongside this insight, developing trusting relationships where young people are involved as partners in this work is crucial for its success.

Our newest toolkit is designed specifically for practitioners working in youth justice settings. You can download it here.

Do you use a rights-based approach for prevention? What other rights are central to your thinking about youth justice?

If you want to learn more about the UNCRC and how rights are protected and promoted in Scotland, visit The Scottish Government are currently consulting on a children’s rights Action Plan for 2018-2021. You can read more about the consultation and give your response here.

[1] The wording of the UNCRC Articles is taken from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

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