Boys aged twelve and thirteen should be given “anger management” lessons at school to help curb knife crime, a report has said.
A study into how violence affects young people, commissioned by Greater Manchester Police, found that peer pressure and a culture of “toxic masculinity” increase the likelihood of teenage boys getting involved in crime.
The research, conducted by The Innovation Unit, was commissioned by Greater Manchester's council and police chiefs as part of their Serious Violence Action Plan.
It said that students in Year Eight should have single sex PSHE lessons where boys are taught how to manage aggression, understand peer pressures and “develop identities and aspirations which do not rely on violence or exploitation”.
“We heard that many boys and young men in Greater Manchester are being told more than ever before that retaliation is a strength and emotions other than aggression are feminine,” the report said.
“Teachers and youth services spoke in particular of the need for more anger and conflict management education.”
One respondent told researchers that teenage boys tend to “get into fights because someone looked at them wrong", adding: "It is just about what they think a man is.”
Between 2015 and 2018, knife crime offences in Greater Manchester rose by 89 per cent, the report said.
This included 127 knife crime offences in schools, a 108 per cent increase since 2015 and the equivalent of more than three knife offences occurring in schools across Greater Manchester each week. One in 10 knife crimes in Greater Manchester is committed by 15-19 year olds against victims of the same age.
The report, titled Community Views on violence affecting young people in Greater Manchester, also recommended that more police officers should be based in schools as a way to crack down on violent crime.
A survey of teachers conducted by the Innovation Unit found that only 60 per cent of weapon possessions in schools are reported to the police.
Placing more offices in schools would enable police to respond quickly to incidents, help them gather “intelligence about what is happening in communities” as well as providing an “authoritative presence” for pupils, the report said.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing crime and criminal justice, said the city’s violence reduction unit is “building an action plan in response to all the insight and research”.
She added: “But change won’t happen overnight – there will be things we can and will do in the short-term, but our approach will be a long-term one. “One that involves communities and professionals working together with us to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime and change social norms over time.”