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Just because someone doesn’t die in a knife attack, does not mean that they survive

Did you hear about the boy who was stabbed in the bowel and has to use a colostomy bag for the rest of his life?
Did you hear about the man who had to have his left leg amputated after he was stabbed in his femoral artery?
Did you hear about the girl who is now registered disabled due to losing the use of her right arm after a stabbing injury?
Did you hear about the boy whose brain stem was damaged in a stabbing, meaning he will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life?

You won’t have done. Life-changing injuries aren’t news.

But they are real. Take David’s story. He was stabbed in the eye as a young man, and his life has been changed forever.

In this day and age, it’s the deaths due to street violence which make the headlines. The stories are tragic and heartbreaking, and raising public awareness and concern for the issue is important. But it is a sad reality that there are thousands of people living with the result of aggressive street violence, whose lives have changed beyond recognition due to the injuries they have received.

These stories don’t generally hit the headlines; if they do reach the news, they’ll be crammed into a tiny column inch, with little explanation. These sorts of stories don’t speak to the media-hungry public. Life-limiting injuries are a tragic by-product of street violence; but it is not something that people talk about.

For parents caring for young people whose stab-injuries from knife violence have blighted their lives, the pain is hard to bear. No parent wants to see their child suffer, ever. Many parents experience an overwhelming sense of empathy from the moment their child is born; they do all they can to nurture and care for this new pure, untainted being, meeting its every need as life gently progresses. Parents laugh with their children, cry with them; hurt with them as they navigate through this unpredictable situation called life, with all its uncertainty and confusion.

When the suffering of a child has been caused by a needless knife injury, the experience can be distressing beyond measure for those left behind. The individual may not have died, but a part of them may have been lost forever, be it a cognitive or physical function. The human body is made in a very specific way, with every single part having a purpose and a reason; the many systems within the human body each fulfil a defined role, working together to enable the body to thrive. Any interruption to any part of this intricate design, will have a profound and life-limiting impact.

We talk in the anti-knife crime workshops about the actual physical impact of a knife piercing through the skin. Eyes widen as I bring examples of those whose injuries from knife crime were so severe that they were not able to continue living the life they knew days earlier. This is not without reason - research from Liverpool John Moores University suggests that injuries inflicted by knives can be persuasive in helping to prevent knife carrying amongst men. We must not allow these stories to be forgotten.

It’s important to raise awareness of this amongst the children and young people with whom we are working. We don’t want to traumatise them, but we do need to impress a sense that knives can cause life-changing, life-limiting injuries. Just because someone doesn’t die in a knife attack, does not mean that they survive. The profound impact of a blade-induced injury may be stark and stay with that person for the rest of their life.

Helen BB

Your donation will help us to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime and help us to achieve our vision: that no family or community should suffer the loss of a life to knife crime

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