Having the conversation
Ask questions, but listen too. Don’t be afraid of confrontation, but try not to approach them with anger and accusations. Try to understand the situation from their point of view and why they have joined the gang. Ask them what you can do to help. Try to agree about what they should do next. Work with them to find solutions and choices.
Don’t expect or demand them to talk. If they do, be patient and try not to react straight away to what they tell you. Give them the voice in this conversation. Encourage them to share their fears. Don’t make it all about you as the parent, but where appropriate, share your own fears – tell them how much you worry about their safety and their future.
Show them that they are being listened to. Reassure them that vast majority of young people don’t carry a knife. If they are fearful of someone or something specific, tell them that it can be dealt with without the need for them to carry a knife.
Stick to the facts
They might not think you know what you’re talking about so a little preparation can really help here. Use what you have learnt (from our SaferDerby website) to deliver the facts.
Be clear about false ‘bravery’
Walking away from confrontation or a fight is the braver thing to do. If someone pulls a knife on them, the safest, wisest thing to do is to walk away. Children fear backlash from their peers, and fear being targeted by a wider group for not stepping up to a situation or individual. Remind them that this moment will pass and attention will move away from them in time. Standing their ground can have lasting consequences.
Help them reflect on how their actions could affect the people that care for them the most. Using a knife is only the beginning. It could place others at risk of being brought into the situation against their will. If they were injured, who will be affected?
Your child may feel you have no experience of knife crime or the challenges they face. You’re ‘old and out of touch’ after all. Are there any examples from your own childhood that you can draw upon? Has there been anything in the news recently or something that’s happened locally that you can refer to?
Find out about safe, fun activities for children and young people in your local area (From our SaferDerby website).
Look after yourself
It may be that you learn some worrying things about your child and the things they’re involved in. Try not to overreact but don’t feel you have to deal with this on your own. You’re certainly not alone and there is support out there (see SaferDerby website page on where to get help).