IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Excluded pupils are at greater risk of knife crime’

10 May, 2019 — By Will Nott

Benjamin Mark Lefcoe, 17, a student at City and Islington College

TEENAGERS have called for an end to school exclusions, warning that the measures increase the risk of children being caught up in knife crime.

In a frank and emotional discussion organised by a human rights charity, a panel of five students from City and Islington College, Angel, revealed their concerns about knife crime last Tuesday.

Benjamin Mark Lefcoe, 17, who attends City and Islington College, said excluded pupils “feel like outsiders”, adding: “They feel unwanted, like they are not loved by their school community.”

He said: “Some kids might have disabilities like ADHD so they can’t help it. Some schools may not have the resources and the only way they sadly have to deal with it, is to use exclusion.”

Aderonke Ademola, 17, said: “A lot of people are vulnerable, especially young people in the areas where violence is prevalent. They shouldn’t be disrupted from doing their exams and need to be in a stable environment so they can get their work done and progress to higher education.”

Aderonke Ademola

Ms Ademola said “demoralised” students are more likely to get involved in criminal activity, telling the debate: “A lot of times students come from homes which aren’t exactly stable or cohesive and they go to school and they’re getting exactly the same thing thrown in their face and they go and join a gang or some negative environment, or community.”

Human rights charity Journey to Justice organised the event held at the Resource for London Centre in Holloway Road.

The event was attended by cabinet member for education Kaya Comer-Schwartz.

She told the audience: “We have to think proportionally of our secondary school population, which is in the thousands, we’ve seen year on year 20 children permanently excluded. But I think there needs to be an ongoing dialogue because research shows being excluded puts students at a higher risk of criminal exploitation from people looking for vulnerable young people to be involved in things like the drugs economy.”

Journey for Justice worked with students from the college in Goswell Road to curate and hold events about their experiences of life in Islington.

A spokeswoman from Journey for Justice said the event represented young people being “galvanised to take action”.

The charity is currently holding an interactive exhibition at Resource for London, which celebrates the civil rights move­ments and Islington campaigners’ struggles for freedom and justice.

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