Bristol, UK – The founder of the Oasis Academy Trust has warned that banning certain types of knives will not solve the issue of knife crime after two pupils at one of his schools were stabbed to death over the weekend.
The Rev Steve Chalke said the killings of 15-year-old Mason Rist and his 16-year-old friend Max Dixon at the Oasis Academy John Williams in south Bristol were “absolutely devastating.” The school is located in one of the most economically deprived areas of the city.
Rev Chalke said that while banning “zombie knives” and machetes seems like an obvious solution, knife crime is a “tragic symptom” of wider issues affecting youth today, issues that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He called for more funding for early intervention programs for children as young as five who are already struggling in school, as well as support for their parents. Rev Chalke also advocated for investment in youth workers to help build relationships and work with schools that are dealing with many of society’s problems.
This is not the first loss of young life due to knife crime for Oasis schools. In 2021, a 15-year-old pupil was stabbed to death at their Croydon school, while another former pupil of 16 died in a separate attack.
Rev Chalke said, “You have to have an emergency plan” for dealing with these situations. After learning of the recent deaths on Sunday morning, a team was immediately sent to the school to guide staff and help students grieve.
While the Government has put forth plans to crack down on certain knives and reduce overall knife crime, Rev Chalke argues more must be done in terms of early intervention. “We need to catch kids early. We need to work with children in key stage 1 and key stage 2… We’ve got to start early, to catch them early.”
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