Letter: Young live with fear of violence

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a teenager of 19 who was brought up in London, I believe that the focus of Trevor Phillips's article on youth violence ("Britain's youth: armed and dangerous", 17 May) was misleading.

In my experience, those young men who are most likely to carry knives and other weapons are not those who go to school. What percentage of those who come from a problem background regularly attend school or college? The real problem is violence in the streets, in pubs and clubs, and even in the local supermarket. I have been to clubs and witnessed stabbings. I have seen friends "bottled" in pubs and clubs simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have watched a cashier being threatened with a knife in Sainsbury's and I have seen the weapons that many people my age, and younger, carry with them.

An arms amnesty can remove thousands of weapons from the streets, but they are not difficult to replace. The most frightening aspect of this problem for me is not the fear of attack, it is the fact that so many people - journalists, teachers, social workers and those in power - seem blind to the reality.

Britain's youth is not dangerous, not evil; it is scared. I just hope that the new government will make an active effort to explore this problem.


London SW18