A charity which partners with churches to transform the lives of children and teenagers through God’s love, says it fears a culture of violent crime is becoming the norm for many young people.
Sarah Turner, who is the co-leader of Kidz Klub Leeds was speaking after the fatal stabbing of 15 year old Alfie Lewis in the Yorkshire city on Tuesday. A 14 year old boy has been charged with his murder.
Sarah has been giving Premier her reaction: “I know lots of people who live in that community and they are just absolutely devastated for the family. The community is really grieving and shocked, very shocked and saddened that something so tragic has happened.
“We certainly see at first hand an increase in violent crime. We're told by the local policing teams that machete attacks are actually almost daily in Leeds. And, sadly, the same day that Alfie lost his life, there was another violent knife crime that happened not far away. It is happening so often, it's actually not always been reported. It’s really sad, and shocking.”
Alfie Lewis’ death came just two days after a 16 year old boy was fatally shot in Birmingham. Police are continuing to question a 17-year-old boy over that incident. And last month, 15 year old Eliane Andam who was a Christian, was stabbed to death on her way to school in Croydon.
Sarah Turner says she fears young people are so used to seeing and hearing about violent crime, it is becoming part of the culture.
“My colleagues and certainly my team-mates have been with children that we work with in the hospital, as they're recovering from knife incidents. So it is really concerning, and it is not okay, for our children to be going out with that level of fear.
“We’re really concerned about this becoming normalised. Often with our children that we work with, they're seeing police responding to incidents on a regular basis, streets cordoned off. And the potential for that to become normalised as if this is acceptable is something we absolutely need to stand up against.
“There has always got to be hope, hasn't there? I think advocating for change is really important. We need to advocate for more to be done at a national level and we mustn’t overlook how important the role of the church is in the nation. It is one of the largest providers of children's and youth work in the nation. That work is absolutely vital for young people to have safe spaces and places where kids have people of all ages around them, that are investing in them, giving them a sense of self-worth."