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Last Updated: Monday November 14 2005 14:50 GMT

Children and knives: What the experts say

Professor Wilson talks to Lizo
Professor Wilson is an expert in criminology

David Wilson is professor of criminology at the University of Central England. He has spent five years looking into why children carry knives.

"I think there are two groups of reasons. Firstly there are defensive reasons why children would carry knives.

In other words, they feel they are going to be bullied, they feel they are going to be attacked.

Crucially, they don't feel they get protection from the adult world when they face those threats.

'Too much confidence'

However I think there's a second group of reasons which relate to the fact that simply by carrying a knife in their hand or in their pocket they get, very quickly, a great deal of respect from their peers.

Kids will often get into more trouble when they have a knife because they have too much confidence that they can deal with the threats themselves.

Whereas in fact all that means is that they are likely to get into further trouble.


Children seem to imagine somehow that having a knife is not going to cause the same damage that would be caused if they were shooting at somebody.

But tragically that's not true and what the adult world had got to do be able to do is convince young people that the solution to their problems is not in carrying knives.

The evidence seems to suggest from all kinds of different sources that children as young as 10 are carrying knives.

And that is quite a frightening statistic when you think about it, because that takes the problem not into our senior schools, or secondary schools, but into our junior schools and our primary schools."

Inspector Tom Halbert
Inspector Tom Halbert works in the Violent Crime Reduction Unit in Glasgow. He tells us about the problems he has encountered.

"There is a problem in Glasgow with the carrying of knives.

So far, it's my experience that when young people come to your attention for carrying knives, it would tend to be teenagers, kids from 12 years upwards.

In the main young people will carry knives that they know are quite easily hidden.


Some use the excuse that they are carrying it out of fear, but the truth of the matter is a knife is not a defensive weapon.

It's an attacking weapon. It's there to inflict injury and harm.

If there's any young person out there anywhere in the UK who is carrying a knife or thinking about carrying a knife, my message is simple: don't do it.

It's a mug's game. You'll cause yourself serious harm, and your family serious harm."

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