Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

We need a renewed focus on primary prevention to tackle youth knife violence

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 16 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1769
  1. Ruth Ponsford, research fellow in school health interventions,
  2. Claire Thompson, assistant professor,
  3. Sara Paparini, honorary research fellow
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
  1. Ruth.Ponsford{at}

We should focus on working with families, schools, communities, and other organisations to protect our young people from becoming embroiled in violent crime

A recent spate of youth-on-youth stabbings has prompted renewed public and policy interest in the problem of youth violence in England. Although rates fluctuate, police recorded data for England and Wales to March 2018 showed the highest number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments since 2011, and the highest number of sharp instrument homicides since the Home Office Index began in 1946. NHS data for hospitals in England for 2017-18, which include incidents not reported to the police, showed a 15% increase on the previous year in admissions for assault with a knife or sharp instrument.

Young men are more likely to be the victims and perpetrators of knife crime. Those stabbed to death and those convicted of killings are predominantly male and aged 16-24, and in London around half of victims of knife crime resulting in injury are under the age of 24.

Globally, there have been longstanding calls to take a public health stance to tackling violence of this kind. In principle, such an approach …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription