Teaching children and young people about crime and justice could help to reduce their own chances of offending or going to prison, according to an education charity.
The charity, Prison! Me! No Way! claims that youth crime and violence has fallen by as much as 44 per cent in some areas that implement its education programmes. It has called for greater emphasis on pre-emptive teaching to discourage children from criminal activity.
The charity, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week, offers insights into various aspects of crime and justice, from workshops to meeting individuals involved in the criminal justice system. These include prisoners, offenders and police and prison officers.
In some cases, youngsters have visited current inmates in prison, who pass on their first-hand experiences. The charity said that by bringing the reality of crime and prison to life it can reduce the impact of the fantasy surrounding crime shown on television, and in films and video games.
In Greenwich, south London, which has been using the charity’s schemes across schools, there has been an 18 per cent drop in crime by 10 to 17-year-olds between 2010 and 2012, from an average of 231 incidents a month to 190. Serious youth violence, meanwhile, has been reduced by 44 per cent from 203 offences to 113 during the same period.
Paul Wilkinson, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Raising awareness of the consequences of crime among children and making sure that the message hits home is never easy. But by employing innovative techniques and educating children about the realities of life in prison, we can have a very real impact on the way young people view crime.
“More needs to be done to reach out to children to discourage them from committing crime. We aim to encourage children to walk the right path by rejecting crime, staying safe and aspiring to become law-abiding members of their community. Anything that can be done to help highlight and address the problems that many of our young children face in society today should be encouraged.”
PMNW currently works with more than 500 primary and secondary schools, and last year it ran more than 160 crime and safety awareness days involving around 42,000 children and young people aged between 12 and 15 years.
Lady Edwina Grosvenor, its ambassador, said: “Having volunteered in prisons for over 10 years, I have seen the hardship that many young people face when they go to prison. While much can be done to help those who find themselves in these situations, much more can and should be done to discourage children from ending up in prison in the first place.”
For more information, visit www.pmnw.co.uk