Secondary schools in Worthing have united to combat youth violence, and urged parents not to sensationalise youth violence on social media.
A letter from the headteachers of Worthing High School, Durrington High School, Bohunt School, Davison High School, St Andrew’s High School for Boys and Chatsmore Catholic High School was sent to parents last week.
It called for them to help reduce youth crime in our town in the wake of a string of incidents involving a small group of young people, including ‘physical assaults, knife carrying and knife use’.
It said: “All schools are doing everything they reasonably can to keep their children safe. However we now need parent/carer engagement to take our next very important step.”
The letter included steps headteachers asked parents to take with their child to keep them safe, including knowing where their child was at all times.
It said they should talk openly about concerns their child might have about criminal behaviour in the community, in school or online, and to report incidents they may have seen, including videos and images they may have taken, to the police or Crimestoppers.
It also gave advice about social media. It said: “Both parents/carers and children should avoid sensationalising unacceptable behaviour on social media. Specifically, don’t comment on images or videos or share links.
“The reason we ask you not to do this is that the greater the number of “shares” or comments these posts receive, the greater the notoriety and public profile the perpetrators receive.”
A meeting was held with headteachers, West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police on Wednesday to continue devising a plan.
The statement said: “We know that by working together with you, our wider community, we will have a greater chance of making a positive impact.”
This comes as the headteacher of Bohunt School explained what his team did in the wake of a double-stabbing involving young people from the Worthing area that did not go to his school.
As previously reported, a 13 and 14-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm after a 16-year-old boy was injured in South Farm Road and another 16-year-old boy was taken to hospital with multiple stab wounds following an incident outside Goring railway station on October 1.
The boys were released on police bail with strict conditions until October 28.
In the wake of this, Adam Whitehead said he held a ‘whole school assembly that recognised the significance of these events, looked at both the national and local picture, examined why people carry knives, the risks this poses to them and others and how to keep safe’.
He added: “We have increased our presence around the school gates and local area at the start and end of the day to reassure students and parents that we do live in a safe society in which individuals are empowered to make sensible decisions.”
He said the purpose of the meetings with Sussex Police and the county council were to discuss ‘how to reassure, support and help our Worthing community, focusing on reducing the immediate risk of harm to young people in the local area, developing long term interventions to reduce youth violence, strengthening local partnerships to improve cooperative working and building community confidence in the work we all do’.