Early intervention can curb youth violence

Barry Youth Homicide

Early intervention can curb youth violence – locking young people up won’t

There is a belief that locking young people up will solve the problem of violence on our streets, but that hasn’t worked and it’s not a deterrent.

We understand consequences when we have time to think rationally and logically. However, when you’re young, hot-headed, and lashing out, you’re not thinking rationally and logically

My hope is that politicians and the public can get away from the kneejerk reaction of mandatory minimum sentences and retributive justice that has defined Britain’s response to youth crime since the murder of my son, Jimmy, in 2008. I’m not against prison. Actions have consequences and there’s no denying that; however, it’s clear that the current system is not working. Young people are killing each other at an increasing rate in London, and we owe it to them to stop this.

Through the work of our charity, For Jimmy, we take the time to look at the deeper issues that are rooted in early childhood. We will only achieve safer and more cohesive communities by working together and understanding the root causes of the issues we are seeking to rectify. This involves early intervention, education and engagement with young people and their communities. If we want to stop young people from killing each other on our streets, then we need to understand why they are so readily resorting to violence; not simply locking them up and throwing away the key.

Barry Mizen

This letter was published in The Guardian on 11 October 2016. 

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