Knives are out in Britain's schools

7th November 2003 at 00:00
The last known fatality in a school fight is thought to have been Rashid Femi, aged 12, who died after being stabbed at an east London school in December 2002.

But even before the tragic death of Luke Walmsley this week, recent months have seen some alarming stabbing incidents at Britain's schools:

* In May 2002, an 11-year-old became the youngest person in living memory to face a murder charge at the Old Bailey when he, and a 14-year-old co-defendant, faced charges of stabbing a Somali refugee, Kaiser Osman, 15, after a football game;

* In August, two teenagers were convicted of stabbing Abdul Maye, 15, outside an east London school;

* In November last year, Stefan Meen, 15, was knifed in the stomach after intervening in a gang fight outside a Hertfordshire school; lIn February this year, a teacher and pupil were injured after being stabbed by a 15-year-old pupil at a school in Birmingham;

* Also in February, a playground brawl between pupils from rival mainly-Turkish gangs at a school in Hackney, east London, resulted in the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy. Six boys aged 14 and 15 were arrested;

* In the same month a 14-year-old girl was arrested after stabbing another female pupil outside a school in Londonderry, wounding her back and arm;

* In May, a teenager appeared in court in Suffolk charged with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Benjamin Goddard, aged 15, following a stabbing.

A study into violence in schools by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers also revealed an alarming catalogue of incidents.

One woman teacher reported a pupil stabbed her three times in the neck with a compass.

The 14 to 15-year-old age group was the most prone to violence while boys were responsible in 81 per cent of incidents, the study found.

Last month, an analysis of reports from the Youth Justice Board found that young people were increasingly likely to carry knives to school and thought that stabbing was acceptable, as long as they avoided the heart.

There was a lack of understanding that involvement in knife fights could be lethal.

The board blamed cinema and television violence for the blase attitude and said it would launch an inquiry into the links between behaviour and violence in the media.

A survey in Scotland, meanwhile, found that one in five teenagers in Glasgow carried knives, blades or bats "for protection".

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