In London we have seen in A&E centres a 30% increase in penetrating violent trauma and 75% increase in firearms related injury in the last 12 months. Many urban communities in the UK have suffered repeated physical and psychological trauma from a crescendo of societal violence. For many of our most vulnerable children, emotional, physical and sexual violence is not only normalised but for some an inevitability.
Whilst poverty and violence are often associated, there are communities with the same deprivation but much lower levels of violence. It is the social cohesion of values and respect which give immunity to violence despite socioeconomic stress.
Cuts to public services have had a significant impact upon community support and police and mental health services. School exclusions have further marginalised many children, some of whom then are drawn into a cycle of exploitation locally and in some cases “up country” running drugs along the county lines of criminal enterprise, for a false promise of status or material wealth.
Prevention has proven to be vital in helping young people at a teachable moment after violent trauma but we should not have to wait for an injury to occur to have that educational opportunity. Growing Against Violence provides a public heath curriculum in over 600 primary and secondary schools in London educating and inspiring young
We have as a society both a moral and humanitarian obligation to safeguard children, and as a country to ensure the physical and psychological wellbeing of our future workforce.
A public health approach is proven to reduce violent trauma but has to be coordinated, sustained and in partnership with communities rather than imposed upon them. It also must be supported by enforcement from a police force that is adequately resourced to be able to proactively protect communities in their dedicated work, with mutual respect.
At this conference I will discuss the work I set up and conduct with “Growing Against Violence.”