Scottish Government
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Tackling knife crime

A new initiative to convince young people that they'll 'have a better life without a knife' was announced at the Scottish Government's national youth conference on violence and knife crime.

The 'No Knives Better Lives' initiative will make young people aware of the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife. This will be done through a range of communications that will be delivered in schools, the community, on the internet and at conferences.

Young people have been fully involved in the development of the initiative and will continue to be central to its delivery over the year ahead.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

"Most young people are well behaved - more likely to be a victim than an offender. But we've seen too many young lives damaged or lost by a knife - we can't go on as we are.

"To change Scotland's culture of violence we need to educate young people and help them understand the consequences of carrying a knife. We also need to listen to what young people have to say, speak to them about what can help and act on it.

"That's why we've been working with young people to develop this 500,000 pounds initiative to help engage with young people and give them information about the dangers of carrying a knife.

"They've told us 'No Knives Better Lives' was a simple yet powerful message, and that we should be using viral internet clips, short films, information hubs and competitions to speak positively with young people. That is what this initiative is all about.

"We'll be working with schools, youth groups, local communities and through the internet to make sure the "No Knives Better Lives" message gets to as many young people as possible."

DCS John Carnochan, Head of the Violence Reduction Unit, said:

"We need to engage with young people and not only listen to what they say but respond to it. As adults we often forget what it's like to be young and how something like knife crime impacts on young people. All too often young people are portrayed negatively, when the truth is they are just the same as us: they want nothing more than to be with their friends and family and to be safe."

Sam Kerr MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

"Painting pictures of young people as knife-wielding thugs is only going to make things worse and that's why we're delighted that the Government is taking this issue seriously - by involving young people we can better understand what we need to do to make them feel safe in their communities, too."

The Scottish Government, the Violence Reduction Unit and the Leith Agency have been working with around 50 young people over the last 6 months to develop the initiative.

The Scottish Government has allocated a budget of £500,000 for this work, which will be used for materials, buying media space, developing new products and promotional materials. We will work with local partners, and progress these partnerships over the next few months, to ensure the most effective delivery in local areas.

The Scottish Government has invited pupils from 11 schools across Scotland to attend the anti-violence youth conference. Young people will hear from delegates including the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, Christine Goodall from Medics Against Violence and Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing. They'll also be involved in interactive workshops and have the chance to have their say in a "Big Brother" style diary room.

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