Like many other partners in the Fear Factory coalition, Chance UK is part of the early intervention movement which is the future of the fight against crime.
We want to protect the future victims of crime by reducing the number of 94,000 children who enter the youth justice system every year. Because this number will clearly lead to a lot of future victims of crime.
We all know that prevention is better than cure. It is easier, cheaper and quicker to prevent someone turning to a life of crime than it is to help them turn away from it. It saves the massive financial, social and emotional cost that such a life will lead to.
Think of a teenage boy who is just starting a life of crime. Rewind back to his primary school years – research shows that there is an 80% chance he was showing signs of behavioural problems then. He might have been getting into fights with other children, found it hard to concentrate in class and been excluded from school several times, leaving him facing permanent exclusion from the school system.
Already low in self esteem, perhaps experiencing a difficult home life, this child will be far more likely to start spending time with negative influences in the form of older children who are also outside the mainstream school system. He will look for a sense of belonging in this group, and be happier to do whatever task the group sets for him, no matter how immoral or illegal. And once in the youth justice system, experts agree that it is very difficult to take the boy out of it, or to reduce the number of victims of his crimes.
But we can stop all this. By spending a bit of time one-to-one with the boy while he’s still at primary school, building up his self esteem and providing positive outlets for their energy and talents. It’s the everyday men and women who mentor the children that do this work, which leads to calmer children in the home, more stable families and better education not just for that child, but for all his classmates as well.
It’s up to all of us to not just change perceptions of the children, but to challenge their potential; do something practical to change a child’s future. As Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”