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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pupils to be taught self-defence in school to counter muggings risk

From: Times Online

Children as young as 7 are to be taught self-defence in schools to help them to cope with muggings, as the authorities battle rising crime rates against the young.

A national standard safety initiative is also being implemented for the first time to counter the targeting of vulnerable young people for possessions such as mobile phones and iPods, The Times has learnt.
Police and education sources said that street crime was one of the most serious issues facing young people because their generation was the first to carry around expensive technology.

Concerns about attacks on pupils have prompted the Metropolitan Police to focus patrols on the three hours after schools shut. Transport for London is considering aligning its bus timetables with school closures to avoid students being targeted while they are waiting for buses and trains.
According to the Home Office, 10 to 15-year-olds are the most likely age group to fall victim to personal crime such as muggings. In response, a self-defence programme is to be used in schools across the country after it proved successful in the capital.

The Safety Box scheme, which is funded by local authorities and police, teaches primary pupils defensive tactics to minimise the risk of injury in the event of confrontation. Nathaniel Peat, its founder, told The Times that workshops were planned for schools in areas including Manchester, Leeds and Derby. The programme has already been undertaken in Northampton, Milton Keynes, Luton, Reading, Slough, Stevenage, Birmingham, Surrey and Watford. “It gives young people confidence and the fundamentals of how to stay safe,” he said.

In a similar initiative, primary and secondary school pupils will be taught how to avoid muggings, such as hiding their mobile phones when in public. The scheme, run by the Kids Taskforce, will become the first national standard safety programme, after a pilot in Yorkshire last year.
Many schools, particularly in the capital, already warn their students not to wear their ties and blazers to and from school to avoid being mugged. Police regularly address students on safety tactics. In London, patrols by Metropolitan Police officers outside schools and at transport hubs in the three hours after schools close have resulted in a 21 per cent fall in the number of young people who were victims of violence in January this year compared with January 2008.

Commander Mark Simmons, head of the Met’s violent crime directorate, said that the carrying of gadgets was only part of the problem. “Some of it is just about rival groups of kids, and those who want to assert their authority,” he said. “It’s not always about the goods that get stolen. It’s also a way for them to assert their control and influence.”

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