Boys carrying Knives in our home sweet home we call Swindon.
Mara Daykin, 15, of Swindon on knife crime amongst youths in the Swindon area.
When I first discovered boys comparable to my own age carried knives, my reaction was one of shock. Not because of their age and not because of the possession itself but because of my perception of these boys. In many ways I still viewed them as innocent playmates I used to climb trees with all summer long – this view has now been permanently altered. Maybe I have had a sheltered upbringing or have just been blissfully unaware of the true troubles of our town, but from my perspective I never saw Swindon to be a particularly dangerous place. You don’t have to look too long or hard to see that knife crime in youngsters is no longer something isolated to London. A simple search term in a web browser will recover a substantial amount of local articles headlining “Police appeal for witnesses after teenage altercation with knife on Manchester Road”, for instance, and more recently “Two teenagers arrested after drugs, money and a knife sized in Swindon”. In no way are these results proportional to the number of incidents in London involving young men, but it does leave me wondering just what common ground Swindon has found with London to be inflicted by this nature of crime. To truly comprehend the reasoning that fuels the desire to carry a knife I talked to a peer of mine who carries a blade on regular basis, living in the Swindon area. When asked how old he was when he first felt the need to have possession of a knife, he said: “I was 13 years old, a lot of people in the area did - these boys were older, and my age, around 17/18”. The issue reaches right throughout the teenage spectrum and so I inquired whether the older crowd influenced the younger, more vulnerable perhaps - admiring their older peers and therefore trying to impress them by carrying a blade as well. Another peer Anon said: “When you’re young you want to fit in, you try to impress the olders by doing what they do and then you grow up and the cycle continues”. The older crowd evidently has leverage, but I wanted to know if there were any other significant factors contributing to the necessity of carrying a potentially fatal weapon. An additional motive mentioned was the plain realisation that ‘if others have access to a weapon and can use it to harm me I should have one to protect myself and harm them’. Stripped back to its primitive core this is an ideology human kind have had deeply ingrained in there psychology since the cave man ages, when defending ourselves with spears against animals with claws and teeth. Another peer of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, added: "If I know people that I'm not good with are carrying one I'll carry too - it's just for self defence." In any instance self-protection is not an applicable reason to carry a weapon however it does raise awareness into just how in danger some of the younger members of society in Swindon feel. Often the knife related incidents I hear about on the grapevine are based on a sort of ‘cold war’ series of threats. Countries very often make nuclear bomb threats to diffuse potential conflicts with action very scarcely taken - the same principle is applied on the streets. This intimidation is most commonly an effort to protect a friend and deter others from committing violent acts. To support this Anon said: “In my area to be honest it’s rarely ever used so I would say it’s more to intimidate people.” I suppose the scariest aspect of this all is that if the carrying and possession of knives can leak and branch out from London, subsequently how quickly and easily will the epidemic of stabbings, slashings and resultant fatalities also infiltrate Swindon from the capital we love so dearly?