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Omolara is a 3rd year medical student at Cardiff University.
I was shocked when a young person told me about his horrific experience of youth violence. He saw many of his friends stabbed and two of his friends bleed out before the ambulance arrived. This story and many others who have witnessed stabbings in broad daylight or have been stabbed themselves, drove me to write a motion at this year’s ARM (Annual Representative Meeting).
The motion passed unanimously and received a standing ovation. I was thrilled as more urgently needs to be done to stop knife crime. This motion is particularly dear to me as it affects a lot of young people from my local community and is also influenced by the work I do with Street Doctors Cardiff, a charity that engages with young people at risk of violence to educate them on the consequences of violence and teach them first response techniques if they come across someone who is stabbed or unconscious.
It is aimed at getting the BMA to support the work of charities and recognising knife crime as a public health issue. We as doctors are in an incredible position to influence young people at a point where we can intervene to break the cycle of violence; whether it be through education of the consequences of violence or signposting to youth offending services to prevent young people from re-offending.
I want medical students and doctors to understand the reasons why young people carry knives, how to communicate with young people at risk of youth violence and to know the appropriate service to refer them to. With that knowledge, medical students and doctors can utilise the position they are in to refer at risk young people to services that can provide further help such as mentoring and education.
Whilst knife crime is a major problem in large cities such as London, we’re seeing more and more victims in A&E departments in Wales. The practise of county lines has spread to areas of south Wales and the 23% increase in knife crime in the last year potentially sees more young people carrying knives out of fear that everyone else is also carrying a knife.
This could be as a result of trends from major cities such as Birmingham and the media spreading this idea that knife crime is a nation-wide sensation. In Wales, the issue is about carrying knives in the first place and preventing the violence we see in major cities from occurring in Wales. Knife crime admissions are at their highest in both England and Wales, and up to 60% of hospital admissions are young people.
Learning from the public health approach adopted in Scotland, we understand that ‘violence is preventable not inevitable’. We know as doctors that prevention is better than cure and often we only get the chance to treat. But as we meet young people at a critical point in their lives, we can play a very important role in helping to prevent recurring violence by referring young people at risk.
I’ll keep you updated on any work that comes from this motion to help young people in Wales. If you want to show your support against knife crime, check out Street Doctors’ social media and #Highfivetosavealife.
You can find out more about the work Street Doctors Cardiff do at www.streetdoctors.org
You are amazing Lara. Am proud to have you as my niece. Go on girl.
I call on parents of these young ones, to work on the home front to talk to their children in support of Lara" s motion. With home and the Street Doctors working together, we will save the youth from knive crime.
Simply on point. Made all the sense in the world, thank you.