Your comments on "Guns, knives and children", first broadcast on Sunday 31 July 2005 at 22:15 BST.
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The programme was very informative and more work needs to be carried out to give young people from inner cities, hope that drugs and guns is not the only way. It starts with positive schooling and teachers having faith in the young people they teach. School, home partnership is still important and learning mentors who are dedicated to their jobs and not just using it as a stepping stone can really make a difference.
To say we should give up on a generation when talking about the knife culture is wrong. Why not hand out a ten year sentence to anyone caught with a knife and then you would soon see it finish.
A truly chilling insight. Two things are very clear. Greater resources and effort needs to be invested in prevention and schemes to divert youth away from crime and violence. Our culture tends to glamorise and affirm violence and this needs to be addressed. Sentences for violent crime need to be far longer.
David, London, UK
Such a shame that none of the young offenders interviewed actually admitted responsibility for their evil acts of crime. It always appeared to be someone else's fault - either at the time of the crime or from years back. They blamed someone else. Perhaps. I hope none of them get parole.
Rees , Crawley, England
This excellent programme demonstrated that youngsters who perceive they have no other route to empowerment, will follow whatever course is readily available to them. Those from an enlightened background might seek out feelings of specialness and belonging through career, relationships, leisure-time pursuits. Where, because of environment or culture, these options aren't so obviously available, the radical alternative of the knife, the gun, membership of a gang or suicide squad seems to supply that feeling of empowerment.
John Goldman, London, UK
The programme on guns knives and violence was an excellent programme. What it highlighted was how upbringing can influence some teenagers. The story of how one violent young offender had seen his mother beaten with a baseball bat while pregnant highlights how sadly many young offenders lack positive right thinking and right acting role models. The rap culture doesn't help either. Young delinquents need to have it emphasised that real life isn't about the ghetto guns or glamour. Real life is about working hard and being law abiding.
Richard Lamb, Coventry, England
These problems are not just in the cities. Gangs are also a rural culture now, just as drugs are. Once sucked into a violent gang it is difficult for youngsters to "get out". Most of these gangs start in the secondary schools here. What can we all do about this violent and drug culture where the only word they seem to know is "respect"?
A Sharman, Stafford, Staffs
People, especially young people, will do anything they are allowed to get away with. Institutional liberalism - the rule of lawyers - allows these miscreants to get away without being punished for anything they do. Replace institutional liberalism with institutional democracy - the rule of the democratic majority - and these same miscreants will be easily and quickly overcome.
Alan Harvey, London, UK
I am a qualified youth worker - I agree with every word spoken by Tanya Byron tonight. Over the past ten years I have seen the level of violence (suffered and perpetrated) grow remarkably amongst the young people I work with. It really scares me, and I really wish I could make a difference. In the past six years I have worked with four young people who have subsequently murdered other people - and this is as a generic worker. I also support young people who sexually abuse other young people. And young people (aged 12) with £100 a day drug habits. I would appreciate advice from Tanya if this is available - we don't have much funding in this small Lancashire town in an apparently "affluent" area. The "problem" is not just in the sink estates and with "youth" - it is a lot deeper than that. We adults have a lot to answer for.
There are huge numbers of these type of offenders in every city and town, and the government know exactly how much money is needed to fund the drug action teams, the job action teams with progress to work programmes, but these programmes are under funded by millions of pounds. Employers wont employ these guys, even if they have changed there ways at 25-30, then they all go on incapacity benefit and get stuck in a benefit trap. This problem is huge.
Nick Brennan, Wolverhampton, England
It comes as no surprise that a young, vulnerable child from a broken home should turn to the streets for protection and respect. If the early years are so vital, then surely it makes economic sense to provide our chronically underfunded inner-city comprehensives with the means to provide an environment where the child may acquire self-respect. Who knows, they may then go on to become better parents themselves.
I watched only the first few minutes of Sunday's BBC Panorama programme on the youth gun culture glorifying the anecdotes of brainless, pitiless yobs filling our prisons and I could just as well have been watching a video nasty for the obvious purpose of attracting a wider blood-thirsty audience. The mass media is mostly to blame for the decline in standards of behaviour as their only real interest is to achieve higher audience ratings and circulation figures and have little concern over the consequences of screening or publishing unwholesome programme material. The government and our judiciary are also to blame for deregulating and decriminalising just about everything and the latest scourge of globalisation is threatening to destroy the very fabric of society, and nobody seems the least concerned.
Peter Hewitt, Borehamwood, UK
DCS John Carnochan's analysis was spot-on in my opinion. It's a shame he seemed to spoil it by then saying that there's been "... powerful research by people a lot smarter than me", unless he was being sarcastic. If not, then he underestimates himself, and should trust his own intuitions more.
Of course, the real experts are the 'offenders' themselves who are smarter than all of them. These 'experts' have thwarted any attempt to curb their violence by police and other agencies for 30 years, and secondly, they are inside the heads of the offenders, rather than trying to get inside, like those supposedly smarter folks.
For those 'smarter' than Carnochan, however, education is the 'Holy Grail', yet education is presumably the very factor the offenders have eschewed from an early age, owing to their understandable contempt for the mostly patronising and controlling ends of 'education' (as well as social services) within their own social context. Meanwhile, these real experts have nothing to say because they haven't jumped through the right academic hoops (unlike Tanya Byron). The offenders, or should I say, experts, are right: It's about respect.
Paul Rodden, Leics
I don't agree with either the conservatives or the liberals on this one. I'm from a broken home and didn't become a junkie, a thief, or a killer, and so are lots of other people. Maybe it's because I'm not a psychopath. At least three in 100 people have anti-social personality disorder. That's a lot of people.
The reason there seem to be more poor violent offenders is because rich ones don't get caught as often and because rich offenders don't need to be violent as often; they tend to use manipulation more and are better "socialised".
Anti-socials know how to manipulate the law, the social workers and the media, the whole "system" that deals with them; they come up with all the usual excuses but it is all lies.
These people have always been with us, but our society is now a lot more divided now with a lot more extreme poverty, and our legal system much more open to manipulation by ruthless predators. They see themselves as the victims and are able to fake emotions. They are incapable of feeling. The main law we need to strengthen is the mental health act; test for psychopathy, monitor them and lock them up before they start killing people.
Andy Wade, Bristol, England
I thought the programme was excellent, it gave a sad but true reflection of a section of our society today that is ever increasing. I just hope a large number of politicians and people in the judicial system managed to see it and realise we have a big problem in this country that is getting out of control.
Desmond Gaffney, Ilford, Essex
Outstanding programme. The woman carrying out the interviews with prisoners was absolutely brilliant. I work with some of these types of boys in schools and wish I had recorded this show. By asking the young men responsible to find an adequate reason for their actions and linking this to the consequence of that action the interviewer did a great job. I wish I had recorded the show as i am convinced it would impact on the boys I work with. I also think it would be positive step to have these young men in prisons do educational work with younger boys age 12+ who are making similar choices to those that resulted in them being jailed.
Arthur McKeown, Hamilton, Scotland
Illuminating programme, moving and worrying, but meaningful and helpful too. The extreme end of behaviour we find in classrooms and on streets across the country. Thought the prisoner contributors gave useful and impressive input, and they should be thanked for their frankness.
Roger Parsons, Lincolnshire, UK
Very depressing viewing. The programme contained no surprises, but no real solutions were offered.
Clearly family and social background is at the root of the problem and I don't see how it can be solved without removing potential problem children from their home environment. Presumably, kids who carry knives from age 12 display signs of antisocial tendencies much earlier. If they could be removed at this stage, say to state boarding schools where they could be exposed to more positive influences, then possibly the inevitability of their descent into violence could be averted. I realise that to implement such a solution well would be extremely costly, but how else can the cycle be broken?
It's very easy to slag off these violent individuals, but if we came from similar, violent backgrounds that breed bitterness and rejection, what would we be like? Condemning these people and locking them up is a necessity to protect the community in the short term, but the only real answer can come from valuing these people as a source of information as to causes of this behaviour, and this the programme did well, I feel.
Thus, in the short term one has to deal with the symptoms reactively(lock them up) whilst long term improvement and prevention can only come from proactively identifying and addressing the causes.
Tanya Byron has been seen on other TV programmes dealing with highly disruptive behaviour with three to six year olds. Intervention at that age has helped greatly. Had the intervention not have taken place, it is not hard to imagine that violent behaviour, of the type seen on Panorama, could easily ensue.
More analysis could be done by contrasting the backgrounds of teenagers who are violent with those from the same estates that are not violent, and identifying key differences. This would give further insight as to causes of violent behaviour. I work in an industry where this contrasting approach is used to establish causes in a robust way. A further parallel with industry - if a customer has a serious concern with his car, the car is valued and analysed to understand cause, and then solutions applied not just to that car but to production to prevent subsequent customers suffering. If the way criminals have been traditionally viewed was applied to the car industry, faulty cars would be ignored (locked up), there would be failure to understand cause, no solutions would be applied in production and the problem would go on and on and on.
Simon Haas, Doveridge, Derbyshire
Let there be no doubt that this situation is our doing. The do-gooders of political correctness and human rights need to stand up and be counted. Respect has to be taught and there has to be penalties for those who don't toe the line. This is a very deep hole we are now in. The suggestion that we discard a generation to get to grips with the younger fry is too ludicrous for words. What we need is common sense and people in place that understand the problem.
This resource does exist and in abundance and it wouldn't cost the earth to employ. Rather than paying to have these people locked up behind bars, send them to boot camp. Give them back their respect and esteem, which we took away from them by bringing them into a world of disarray. Teach them the difference between right and wrong and put them in uniform - yes, I mean the police. Go one stage further and put them back into the community they came from, operating from their home - remember Police Houses.
To have streetwise police who know the culture would be well equipped to deal with it at grass roots. I don't mean jumped-up, overweight traffic wardens, turned community police. I mean real policemen/women with a mission and the force of law behind them.
They would have their jail sentence suspended. Boot camp would assess their suitability and if they failed to make it though boot camp ("National Service") at whatever level, they would go back to jail and serve out their sentence. It would be as simple as that. Think of the relief of our over populated prisons and associated costs. Those of us who did National Service most would admit that it added an element of respect and levelling to our lives. It was a shame it stopped. Let us not forget that many a hero in past wars came from prison life.
Peter Young, Lymington UK
I am 15 and watched the programme online. I noticed how the people in the programme thought violence was the only answer. Sometimes i feel like that too. I have the ability to do well at school but i tried to get a reputation for myself, as not to get bullied. I can see from looking at this programme - violence isn't the answer but that won't change the youth today as, if someone my age heard someone else had done something offensive, they would want to teach them a lesson by using violence. The streets are getting very dangerous and we need more police on the streets for our own benefit (speaking for mindless idiots and chavs who want to cause trouble - like me).
James Harris, Gravesend, UK
I think we need more deterrent to stop people committing these crimes in the first place, really hard back-breaking labour in a tough prison might help, forget all these human rights too, we need to make prison a place that people will really fear going too. At the moment I don't think some people really are scared of going there.
Jane Potter, Worcestershire
Good viewing, informative, but where are the solutions? As a teacher and mother of a young black male, who is very angry with the world, I feel frustrated with the system and the lack of services for young people. My son is at risk of offending as he is more interested in his reputation than his future. He has violent tendencies and yet I cannot get the help or the support I need to help him. There needs to be more services and funding available with more trained professionals in schools to help. Not an educational psychologist who visits once a term to discuss certain cases with the head teacher and often does not even meet the children in question.
The last words by a young prisoner struck my mind, which was about a teenager who goes through the 'right' path going to work in a Pizza Hut. The point I received by this was that teenagers going through 'sensible' paths don't receive as much as they deserve in this world.
As I am an 18 year old myself, completed A-levels and confident that I will achieve 5 grade A, together with the fact I have never committed any crime, I expected to be one of the very best in the young society. Until I got a part time job and was treated very badly without a good reason. I thought I deserved better, at least a little more 'respect' as a sensible youngster. Since then, few people I talked to told me that 'this is the way the world is'. I was, and am really upset. After all those 10 years studying hard, is this what I get? Even worse, I used to get bullied until a couple of years ago and no one did anything to improve the situation.
I understand that I may just be whining and people would tell me to adapt to the world. I am not going to take all those undeserving disrespect just because I am young, or just I am in the lower sector of a business, after what I went through all my life. I even thought, and still thinking of going into a criminal path to receive more 'respect' I deserve. I know I am an intelligent, able, young person that I would be a big threat to this paradoxical society if this situation escalates. Please don't get me wrong, I know it is a bad thing to commit a crime, but I am being pushed towards that way. Also the young prisoner said 'but I am in a prison and he is not'. So what? Do we live everyday sensibly because we don't want to be in a prison? I think not. I wish a little more options in the modern society.
My point is that there must be some more young people like me. I want some people to deal with this and convince me that I am wrong in what I am saying.
Tosh, Barnet, Middlesex
I work with many of these potential psychopaths in a secondary school. The only thing that would work is an exemplary sentence.
Children's Panels are laughed at by the offenders and the education service reinforces their criminal behaviour by refusing to even attempt to tackle it.
Compare and contrast with the development of New York over the last 12 years.
Paul Cochrane, Paisley