Schools in North Yorkshire will be giving children anti-knife lessons before the summer holidays as part of a campaign from the Home Office.
The Home Office has been working with both the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Association and teachers to create new school curriculum materials on knife crime.
What are the lessons?
In June 20,000 PSHE teachers were sent new lesson plans to help them challenge myths and communicate to their pupils the realities of carrying a knife.
Aimed at children aged between 11 and 16 years old, the lesson plans feature real-life case studies of young people from the latest #knifefree campaign along with new content on the importance of having good role models.
North Yorkshire county councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for schools, said: “The anti-knife crime curriculum currently on offer in schools across North Yorkshire is vital in highlighting the dangers of carrying a knife.
"We know that early intervention is integral to shaping a young person’s behaviour towards knives in later years and we support many of our schools to deliver personal, social and health education lessons on knife.
“Keeping our young people safe is a key ambition for the council, so we would welcome any new and improved school curriculum materials on knife crime.
“However, the number of young people who carry knives in the county is low; lower than in comparable shire counties."
Current lessons on knife crime that were developed by the Home Office and the PSHE Association have been downloaded over 14,000 times nationally since they were introduced in July last year.
Why are children learning about knife crime?
The news comes following the release of figures in February 2019 that showed 285 deaths as a result of knife crime in England and Wales - the highest number since records began in 1946.
And in November 2018, there were reports of a rise in the number of children under 18 receiving treatment for knife wounds in England. The number of young victims increased by 86% in the previous four years.
What are the figures like in North Yorkshire?
While the rate of knife offences per 100,000 people is lower in North Yorkshire than the nation average (28 per 100,000 and 69 per 100,000 respectively), knife offences in the county have risen over the last four years.
North Yorkshire Police investigated 229 sharp weapon offences between April 2017 and March 2018 according to the Office of National Statistics.
In 2013-14 the force investigated 145 incidents, an increase of 58 per cent over four years and 8 per cent from 2016/17.
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What do the government and PSHE Association say?
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said: "Early intervention is a key part of our Serious Violence Strategy and it’s vital that we give young people the tools and resilience to keep themselves safe over the summer holidays.
"I’m pleased that our current lessons on knife crime have proved successful and that we are able to strengthen them even further, and I’d like to thank every teacher who has taken the time to deliver them."
The new lesson plans are a new addition to the current PSHE syllabus following the introduction of a series of lessons on knife possession last year.
Jonathan Baggaley, PSHE Association Chief Executive said: "We are pleased to build on the popular #knifefree PSHE teaching resources we produced with the Home Office last year.
"These new materials are designed to challenge inaccurate perceptions about knife crime, help young people develop the confidence to resist pressure to carry knives, and to recognise positive role models. We encourage all schools to download and deliver these free materials."