Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Solving knife crime by educating the young is a wise move

A multi-pronged approach from parents and the public sector will create a law-abiding next generation

A traditional sword dance called the mzafin (confrontation) is performed in Ras Al Khaimah. Jaime Puebla / The National
A traditional sword dance called the mzafin (confrontation) is performed in Ras Al Khaimah. Jaime Puebla / The National

It is every parent's hope that their child will grow up knowing the difference between right and wrong. After the killing of a 16-year old boy in Ajman last week, the need to impress the senselessness of knife crime on the young has become even more pressing. There were approximately 450 violent crimes in the UAE last year; a relatively low figure on an international scale, but one victim is too many. That has been recognised by authorities, who are tackling the issue with a triple-pronged approach – via legislation, the judiciary and by encouraging parents to drive home the message to youngsters from the age of two.

Carrying blades and swords in public is legal, partly because of tradition. The number of people misappropriating them as weapons is thankfully low. However, the call from the Federal National Council to ban the carrying of knives or swords is to be welcomed. The proposed law being drafted by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice will restrict accessibility and use of blades and keep a check on offenders when they are released from prison – but that is only part of the picture. Parents and teachers must play their part in teaching the young about the dangers and consequences of mishandling blades from an early age and take a lead in stamping it out in concert with the Government. Blade awareness is already being taught in schools through the Nibras programme. Abu Dhabi Judiciary Department has gone a step further by rewarding good behaviour. The groundwork has already been laid for dozens of Emiratis as young as 11 to be recruited to serve as good conduct ambassadors, tasked with teaching their peers about the law. The judiciary, which previously held a Child's Legal Knowledge Year, is pressing ahead with its goal of establishing a culture of social responsibility among the country’s youth by 2030.

The draft law follows recent strides in the UAE’s judicial system, including a new one-day courts initiative in Abu Dhabi, which will streamline justice for minor cases. The fact the system can evolve and respond to issues as they arise is its great strength. Putting young people at the centre of its solution is a wise move. That is the key to creating a law-abiding population of the future, for whom the letter of the law has been instilled from birth from parents, school and the public sector.