London: Ashgar Jilow used to sell stab-proof vests to nightclub bouncers and security guards at his London military surplus store. Now his clients are kids as young as 10 who fear they are going to be knifed at school or on the street.
“Some of them are so tiny the vests don’t even fit under their school uniforms,” said Jilow, 55, who sells about three of the $230 vests a week. “Parents don’t know what to do to keep their kids safe.”
Every week in London, 52 teenagers are victims of knife crime, according to the Metropolitan Police. A child is stabbed to death in Britain every two weeks and knife killings outnumber gun homicides three to one, said Norman Brennan, a police officer and director of the Victims of Crime Trust.
“Knife crime is out of control and kids carry them like fashion accessories,” Brennan said. The youngest child to be suspended from school for brandishing a blade was just five.
Last week two teenagers were knifed to death in London. Adam Regis, 15, was attacked March 17 on his way home from the movies in Newham, an east London borough that is being regenerated by the 2012 Olympics. He called his girlfriend for help as he bled to death, police said.
Three days earlier, Kodjo Yenga, 16, was stabbed to death as a gang of boys and girls chanted “Kill him, kill him” in Hammersmith, west London, where homes sell for more than 1 million pounds, eyewitnesses said.
Statistics indicate that more children are reaching for blades as gang culture spreads. Some 42% of boys aged between 11 and 16 in state-funded schools admit to having carried a knife, according to the Youth Justice Board, which oversees punishment of child offenders.