I’m worried about my child and knife crime  

Most young people don’t want to carry or use a knife. But some may carry a weapon because they’re afraid of others carrying one. Knife crime can also be a direct result of drug dealing and gang turf wars. 

The topic is often in the news, so it’s common for parents and carers to worry about knives. There is support available if you need it, and some things you can do to support your child.  

Understand why it happens

If your child is carrying a knife, it may not be because they’re looking for trouble. Peer pressure, social media and exploitation by gangs can make young people feel they should protect themselves.  

Trying to understand why your child is behaving the way they are can help you work out how to support them.  

We have some advice on what to do if you think your child is being exploited

Create space for open conversation

Have open and honest conversations with your child about what they think and feel. They may not want to talk, but don’t force the conversation. Let them know you’re there for them if they need you. This way they’ll be more likely to speak up if they do get into any trouble. 

Listen to any worries your child has. It can help to:  

  • Get to the point, but avoid instilling fear or being angry. 
  • Give them the facts – the Ben Kinsella Trust has some information for parents and a learning zone for young people. 
  • Watch a knife crime documentary or film together and then talk about it after.  
  • See if there’s someone they trust, like a family member, that they would feel happy speaking to.  
  • Help them understand the consequences of carrying a knife.  

Set some boundaries

Putting boundaries in place within the home can help your child understand what behaviour is acceptable. Setting standards early means your child is less likely to follow standards set by others.  

See our advice on setting house rules for teenagers.    

Help them make positive connections

Be aware of where your child is when they go out, and who they’re with. Show an interest in their friends without putting pressure on them to tell you everything. Get to know your child’s friends and invite them over.  

Find ways to help your child connect with others in their community, so they have positive interactions with those around them. Help them understand what makes good friends and positive relationships.   

Help them stay safe

Think about putting a safety plan in place, without making it too formal. You can:  

  • Make sure your child always has a phone on them, and the phone has credit.  
  • Let them know they should call 999 if they are being threatened or in danger.  
  • Check they have enough money to get home, or arrange a lift.
  • Talk through scenarios that worry your child, and how they could get out of those situations.  
  • Ensure your child is aware of their surroundings.  
  • Help them learn to listen to their gut if they feel worried or bad about a situation.  
  • Tell them to avoid going anywhere with people they don’t know.  
  • Ask them to let you know if they move somewhere different from where they said they would be.   

Get support

Ask your child’s school, college or youth club what they’re doing to educate young people on knife crime. Your child may find it easier to speak in a class or group setting.  

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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