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Why are young boys more inclined to gang & youth violence?

Youth crime and violence are at their peak in the UK, with knife crime increasing among boys (especially from ethnic minority groups) who are being exploited and/or murdered at a very young age, as young as 12. The government needs to crack down on youth crime and get to the root of this occurrence and its prevention. 

The main cause of why young lads turn to gangs can be made up of two different topics discussed below, namely: stereotypes on young black boys and how they are perceived in the media. As we go ahead, I have conducted investigative journalism throughout this piece to prove the scenarios based on racism, prejudice and mental health.

Stereotypes, racism and prejudice 

The education system has played a role in failing young ethnic minority groups.

Forms response chart. Question title: Would you say School has benefitted you in the long run?. Number of responses: 18 responses.

This statistic has put forward that yes, school can change an individual’s life for the better. However, it could also change an individual’s life for the worse. While conducting personal interviews, one of my interviewees mentioned,

 “My teacher told me that if I continued being bad then I should join a gang and that is exactly what I did. In later years of my life, my family gave up on me, the education system gave up on me and  so I started wilding out.” 

Self-fulfilling prophecy can interfere with a child’s growth in school because the interviewee has stated this point about himself that his teacher commented on him throughout his tenure in school and he started believing that he was of no worth. The female teacher kicked him out of lessons every single day and never cared about him. His “biggest regret” was that had he been treated like his white counterparts in the school, he would’ve gained motivation to stay in school and achieve more. 

Young ethnic minority boys are being excluded more than girls and their numbers are still increasing. This also exposes them to being exploited by gang members at a young age. In 2019, according to the Children Commissioner Charity, “Exclusions have risen to 67% since 2012/2013. There is no evidence of changing behaviour patterns and the excluded children are highly vulnerable: half of them have mental health problems and some have special educational needs. And when you ask those children in prisons now, what was their trigger point? Many of them would say that falling out of school.

Mental Health 

Mental health, especially when it comes to young ethnic minorities, is overlooked. The Famous Rapper Konan released a documentary on PTSD called “Konan - trapped in Trauma: untold”.This documentary could be a positive outreach for minority groups or those who live in low-income areas to stop being involved in gang culture/violence because it could have a major impact on their mental health.

 The data shows more than 311,000 16 to 24-year-olds are struggling with PTSD, many of whom are undiagnosed, and the cases are mainly linked to personal assault and violence according to figures estimated for the show. Low awareness of PTSD and difficulty in diagnosing the condition means that 70% of cases go untreated. 

According to the Guardian,If the NHS offered more early intervention therapy, it could save 2.4 billion in taxpayer money ", based on Channel 4’s analysis of research by King's College London and data from Office for National Statistics.

Moreover, one of my interviewees has said that anxiety, PTSD, and being hyper-vigilant have made an impact on his mental health. He mentioned that “Gang culture is not a job, it is a lifestyle, a unique lifestyle which allows you to live in the moment. It’s the adrenaline rush that keeps you going. You are living at present and the things that can happen to you could scar you mentally for life.” 

He has witnessed a lot of grave things happen in his life which scarred him for the worst. The interviewee raised concern about those who are affiliated to gang culture .He quotes “a lot of gang members have this feeling that when they leave their house, they don’t even know what might happen:perhaps,fear of the unknown. You could be walking somewhere that’s calm, but you’re still feeling a bit anxious”.

Representation and How We Can Change  

According to the Guardian, the northeast has the least diverse teaching workforce in the country, with Pakistani or black African origin students likely to never have a teacher of similar ethnicity in their classrooms. Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation charity, said the evidence on racial disparity in recruitment was “not surprising” but was still “deeply disappointing”.

Forms response chart. Question title: If there were more positive, ethnic minority role models. Do you think it could steer individuals away from gang culture?. Number of responses: 18 responses.


According to the statistics drawn out from the survey, it is clear that having a positive, ethnic minority role model could steer individuals away from violence. One of my interviewees has said that “You need someone that can see into the future. If young black boys saw more young black men who understood their pain, then it would be easier for them to relate and make them stay much more motivated to stay in school and achieve more.”

 Moreover, the government needs to look into low-income families and help them by funding these communities which can stop young boys from knife crime.The actor and rapper,Idris Elba,has launched a new campaign to tackle knife crime named as “Don’t stop your future”  to ban zombie knives and machetes.Idris Elba said that in 2023, serious youth violence rose across the country. That means hundreds more promising lives cut short over an argument or fleeting emotion.Every day, the feeling of helplessness in parents grow bigger and bigger. If you had kids a certain age, then you know - that feeling is relentless. Every walk to school, every hug goodbye, you can’t help but wonder if that’s it; that’s the last one." Many families whose young children were involved in gang culture/violence have suffered painful losses. 

The interviewee has also raised an important point of making school bus journeys safer. Parents will know that their child’s journey is being monitored and this can help cut down crime while travelling to and from school.  

Additionally, as social media does act as a catalyst in many situations, the interviewee also mentioned that we need to appeal more to young people, instead of putting ridiculous ads that do not entice them. Put ads that help connect with young individuals like workshops, and youth centres. Get campaigns, and pop-up shops that engage youths and bring the community together and bring their favourite influencers/ YouTubers to this campaign which would potentially decrease the number of young boys involved in the crime.


Photo Source: Pinterest

Editor: Jaya Jha


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