Does the UK anti-knife crime video ‘Choose a Different Ending’ solves the problem?

Almost four London teenagers a day are victims of knife violence. And more than seven youngsters are robbed at knifepoint in the capital every day according to UK Home Office statistics.

to combat these numbers the London's Metropolitan Police are urging teenage boys to "choose a different ending" in an interactive publicity campaign running on YouTube. The campaign was launched a year ago and had 2.7 million net views since its launch on 6th July 2009.

Great idea, but does it really solve the problem?

I remember when I moved to more the urban area of Amsterdam, that I asked my street wise black neighbour if he had any “street tips” for me. The first thing he told me was: “if you think of carrying a weapon, remember that if you pull it, you also have to use it. And it doesn’t matter whether it's a screwdriver or even a pen. Because If you don’t use it, then you will be in deep trouble.” Thanks to him I never carried a weapon.

Luckily I never even came close to a situation where I had to defend myself. It was the power of media indoctrination that made me contemplate the idea.

But I know that the situation in London is totally incomparable with my situation back then. The knife violence in London is dramatic.

Although I understand that an interactive YouTube video is just another tool to raise awareness, I don’t believe it will solve the problem. But what does?

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that a lot of black urban communities seem have similar problems. Teenage pregnancies, absentee fathers, educational problems and crime, are problem we have in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and in the USA.

And of course I don’t have the solution to these very complex problems. But there’s one thing I’ve learned: black people need each other.

My neighbour thought me an important communication lesson: if you show it, you have use it. I learned him how to use the computer I used for my study, and what he could to do to learn more about it. He changed my life, and maybe even saved it. I changed his life, because he took the computer courses, and finally went on working for a mayor consulting firm as a computer expert. Isn’t this just a peer to peer thing?

I know I am pretty naïve, but sometimes the power of naivety works. That high powered media campaign "choose a different ending" in the UK, will most certainly work. But that one minute free lecture of my neighbour did it for me.

Some interesting links:


  1. Westley Odger's Mum says..."To do nothing is not an option and for things to change people need to stand up against violence! I've stood up against violence and change Law and focused on Education in the UK www.KnifeCrimes.Org for information."

  2. Hi Ann. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you that doing nothing is not an option. I read your very sad story by the way. Your son was killed by two black men. For others.

    I just feel that black communities should be used more in this very complex process.
    So I feel we need both messages.

    Let me be clear that I am not talking about brutal killers, I must admit that I am not interested in there side of the story. I am thinking more about the large group who just wants respect and perspective.

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