We’ve seen a heartbreaking few days across London with young people losing their lives to senseless acts of violence. Sadly, as like any major city, London has its share of tragedies. From terror attacks aimed at instilling a sense of fear in the resident and visiting population to acts of aggression and retaliatory violence that is causing so many young people to lose their lives.
The recent news is painful to hear and brings back awful memories of the death of young people such as Damilola Taylor all those years ago.
It’s easy to point the finger of blame at a single element, whether that be the police not patrolling high-risk areas, the government reducing front-line police spending and numbers, society at large for allowing a gang culture to exist and thrive, family breakdowns, failed community integration, a lack of opportunity and aspiration or even social media, which has been blamed widely over the last few days for being the starting point for some of these deadly feuds. In reality, it could be all or any of those things.
Yet London is a place like no other. Its pace and cultural diversity are unique; more than 300 languages are spoken in London schools. Just think about that for a minute… more than 300! London thrives on this diversity. New cultures are welcomed with the population on the whole more than willing to explore, learn and enjoy these cultures, whether that’s through their cuisine, fashion or traditions, London embraces love, positivity and change.
Let’s be clear, these attacks are motivated by a cultural difference, in fact, they’re seemingly motivated by very little other than a short-term feud that has ended in a loss of life. There’s no excuse for it but what it does suggest is that young people are, by carrying a deadly weapon such as a knife or a gun, seeking to reclaim a sense of power and self-worth that they have clearly lost along the way.
We, as a society, need to work harder to engage and encourage young people. Aspirations need to go beyond the power of carrying a weapon. Sadly there will always be fringe elements that are hard to reach, but we should not wake up to the news on an almost-daily basis of a young person having lost their life, destroying both their family and that of the perpetrators.
Children should not kill children and when we live in a society that allows even a small element on the margins to think that’s an acceptable course of action, we need to pause and figure out where we’ve gone wrong.