Leeds academy head: Social media playing a part in rise in school knife crime

Social media has a part to play in the rising number of children carrying weapons in school, leader of a Leeds academy chain has said, as he warns this is a 'significant' potential threat.

Sir John Townsley is concerned about a rise in knife crime in schools in Leeds

Sir John Townsley, chief executive of the Gorse Academies Trust, believes the key to action comes in understanding why youngsters feel the need to carry knives.

“From my experience I do
think that we are ‘at the edge’ of a position where knife crime could well become an issue in some schools across the country,” he said.

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“I recognise the influence of social media and irresponsible adults in setting a poor example to children, particularly in more inner city and disadvantaged communities.

“I am, however, clearly of a view that in our city we do not have a problem at this point but I do think that it is time for us to think very carefully both regionally and nationally about how we take on this significant potential threat.

“This will need to include thinking more carefully about why it is that youngsters feel the need to carry knives as well as making it more difficult for potentially lethal weapons to be available to them. The problem here of course is that lethal weapons can be found in almost every kitchen across the country.

“As ever, the solution lies in education and in how we share with our children the values that make our society safe and happy.”

Andy Mellor, vice-president of the National Association of Headteachers, said the step from primary school to secondary can be daunting.

“If you put yourself into the shoes of an 11-year-old, when they go to secondary school, they suddenly go to this huge setting with sometimes over 1,000 children and sometimes they can feel vulnerable,” he said. “It is about dealing with these feelings of vulnerability before children or young people think they need to take action to protect themselves.”