'I'll Slash You Up'

A youth knife crime "epidemic" is how the British media is describing the steady climb in stabbing deaths among teenagers in London. Hardly a week goes by without a disturbing headline about a teenage stabbing.

A recent victim was 18-year-old Rob Knox, who had a small part in the film "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Police say he was fatally stabbed while trying to break up a brawl outside a bar.

Two weeks before that, 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, described as an extremely popular teenager, was stabbed to death outside a bakery with a piece of glass.

At a bus stop, 15-year-old Romeo Peacecraft told ABC News that he was recently stopped by two knife-carrying youths, for no apparent reason.

He recalled their words: "Yo, we're gonna kill you, fight you if you talk back or walk away. We're gonna shank you."

Peacecraft added that he talked his way out of the situation by remaining calm and trying to act in a non-threatening way. Other teenagers have not been so lucky.

A 13-year-old boy, Ben, who would give only his first name, told ABC: "Some of the guys are carrying knives because they are trying to act 'hard' in front of their mates."

He added, "I'm worried because if someone doesn't like the way you talk, or the way you look, they can just walk up and stab you."

Ironically, this is happening in a major world city with a relatively low murder rate. London has about a third the number of murders as New York City, which is roughly the same size.

But the number of London murder victims under 18 is on the rise.

According to police, 17 teenagers were killed in Britain's capital in 2006, and the figure jumped to 27 in 2007. And less than halfway through this year, teenager killings have already reached 16.

Eleven of those 16 have been stabbed to death, and most of the killers are believed to be other young people.

"It's not even a shock anymore," said 16-year-old Vogue Huell from south London. "It's the whole gang culture, I think. As soon as one person gets stabbed, someone goes after another person."

The British Government Takes Note

Recently, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared that "Carrying a knife is completely unacceptable."

Brown announced a new national policy for cracking down on the teenage knife culture. Until recently, warnings were given to those under 18 who were found with knives.

Now, anyone over 16 who is caught with a knife longer than 3 inches will be automatically prosecuted. If convicted, a teenager over 16 could face up to four years in prison. That is just for possession, not for actually carrying out an assault.

"Young people need to understand that carrying knives doesn't protect you, it does the opposite — it increases the danger for all of us; destroys young lives and ruins families," Brown told reporters.

He touched on one of the main reasons many teens give for carrying a knife — fear of knife attack.

Twenty-one-year old Monique Morrison, a youth counselor who recently met with the Prime Minister, told The Associated Press: "It's increasing. Its stupid things 'you have spoken to my girlfriend, I'll slash you up,' or 'If I see him out, he's having it.'"

The London knife crisis has ignited an intense public debate over what to do to stop kids from killing kids.

One of Britain's most prominent religious leaders, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has criticized Gordon Brown's plan to lock up more teenagers caught with knives.

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