Students across Kent and Medway are signing up to a Commitment Pledge to help keep themselves and others safe from knife harm and violent crime.
The Pledge is a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and Kent Police Schools Team initiative which was developed after the VRU funded 25 school trips to The Ben Kinsella Exhibition in Barking & Dagenham.
The exhibition was set up in collaboration with Ben Kinsella’s family following his murder in 2008 to educate young people in the dangers of knife crime and to help them make positive choices to stay safe. Young people from schools across the county have been visiting the exhibition and taking part in workshops.
VRU Director, Chief Inspector Lara Connor said: ‘The feedback we have received from students who have visited the exhibition has been excellent. We wanted to continue to promote knife harm awareness within schools following the trips and we came up with the idea for a Commitment Pledge.’
The Pledge states that the students promise to safely dispose of any weapon, not to use or carry weapons, to behave in a non-violent manner, to ask for help if needed, and to support their friends to act the same.
The Rowans AP Academy in Medway was the first school to sign up to the Commitment Pledge. There to witness the signing was the Mayor of Medway, Cllr Jan Aldous, and representatives from the VRU, Kent Police, Fearless and The Ben Kinsella Trust.
Headteacher, Fiona May said: ‘We are extremely proud to be the first school in Kent to sign up to the Pledge, all of our students are committed to keeping both themselves and their peers safe. After our trip to Ben Kinsella, one student told me: ‘‘It made me feel very sad but the whole day opened my eyes to the dangers of knife crime and made me think about my own safety when I am out by myself and with friends”.
‘So, this pledge is an important part of our school curriculum to help our pupils make informed choices, aspiring to be the best versions of themselves, taking and accepting social responsibility and contributing positively to their communities.’
The Commitment Pledge is presented to a school during their assembly by the Kent Police Schools’ Team and the VRU. Once students understand the promises, the headteacher signs it on their behalf and it is displayed in a prominent location. Each school is also offered VRU support to run two awareness campaigns per year, to keep the pledge high on their agenda.
Schools that have not yet attended the Ben Kinsella Exhibition can still sign up to the Pledge and Schools Officers and the VRU will be encouraging every school across the county to sign up to the promise.
Patrick Green, CEO of The Ben Kinsella Trust said: ‘Pledges work. Research shows that people who publicly pledge to do something are more likely to follow through than those who don’t.
‘By committing to this pledge, young people in Kent will create a social pressure within their peer groups to make knife carrying unacceptable.
‘Young people have a critical role to play in helping us to stop knife crime, and this pledge helps to amplify their voice to influence others to stay knife free.’
Notes to Editors:
Photograph: (L-R) Lauren Geater - Fearless, Tom Jewkes – Regional Manager The Ben Kinsella Trust, Mr Tony Aldous, Cllr Jan Aldous – Mayor of Medway, PC Dave Brett, Sharon McCauley – VRU, Sgt Glen Rickersey, Fiona May – Headteacher The Rowans AP Academy, PC Katherine Finn
The VRU is a collaboration between Kent Police, Kent County Council and other partners.