Knife crime and gun crime

Are you worried your child is involved in gun or knife crime?

It can be extremely worrying to think that your child is involved in something as dangerous as knife or gun crime. Maybe they're not carrying a weapon themselves but are associated with people who are. The natural reaction is to panic - but this won't resolve the situation and could push your child away.

The consequences of taking no action, though, could be extremely serious for your child or someone else. You must do something about it.

If you discover they've been carrying a weapon, you'll almost certainly question why. If they're willing to talk about it, they might give you a number of reasons:

  • fear
  • to gain respect
  • protection
  • to steal
  • to intimidate or harass
  • peer pressure or being pressured into carrying it for someone else
  • defence

Whatever the reason, it is likely to have something to do with fear. Even if they don't admit it, a young person getting involved in weapons will be frightened and continuously looking over their shoulder. They'll be waiting for the police to stop and search them, or to be confronted by others, and in the end will be grateful for a ‘way out’ of that lifestyle.

What can you do?

Learn about the law:

  • Carrying a knife or a gun is illegal.
  • Police are allowed to use their powers to stop and search someone if they believe a weapon is being carried.
  • Having a criminal record could stop your child gaining entry into a university, getting a job and could place restrictions on them travelling to some countries.

Make them aware of the consequences:

  • Carrying a weapon increases the risk of them being injured themselves.
  • It is illegal - they could ruin their life if they're caught, even if they never use the weapon.
  • They could go to jail for up to 4 years if they're found in possession of a knife or 5 years for a gun, even if they're carrying it for someone else.
  • In the worst case scenario, they could get life imprisonment for murder.
  • Whilst walking away is often the hardest thing to do, it is the safest and won't get them into trouble with the police.

Talk to the parents of your child's friends. If you're worried, they probably are as well.

  • They may see your child in different places, hanging out with different friends and could help you get a better understanding of the situation.
  • By working together you could raise awareness.

Is it part of something bigger?

If you think it's getting really bad and think your child has used the weapon against someone, you should report it, even if you know they will get into trouble. It's better they get into trouble now than get seriously injured or even killed.

Getting more help

For more information about knife and gun crime visit our ‘Get the facts’ or ‘More help and advice’ pages.

For other related topics take a look at our other sections on bullying and gangs and group violence.