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Church's collaborative efforts can stem gun and knife crime

by Michael Ford last modified 09 Jul, 2019 04:57 PM

General Synod members have voted unanimously to back proposals for action to stem youth violence.

They passed a motion asking Dioceses to provide training for church leaders in supporting those affected by the violence, including gun and knife crime.

Moving the motion, on Saturday, Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Vicar of Angell Town, in Brixton, said the response of the Church needed to shift from reactive to proactive; it must not let the potential for action go: "We must be the Samaritan and not the Pharisee."

"I have conducted the funerals of too many young people, and I prefer to be there supporting the living rather than presiding over the dead," she said.

Echoing later speeches, she said that many of the victims and perpetrators of violence had been "shaped by trauma." They were also more likely to be either permanently excluded from school or sent to pupil-referral units, which could be used as "recruiting grounds" by gangs.

Synod acknowledged that the problem was spreading outside our cities, with "middle-class drug-taking fuelling the rise of County Lines drug trafficking."

Several speeches during the debate emphasised the "uniqueness" of the Church's offering places of safety and, in parishes where families of perpetrators and victims lived side by side, "a place not only of pastoral care for individuals, but also forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation with each other and with God."

Several speeches emphasised the uniqueness of the Church’s offering, but an amendment - which called on the Government to "explore ways of addressing the yearning for a sense of belonging, which results in so many young people being drawn into gang-based communities" - was rejected.

The motion carried by General Synod reads:

That this Synod, recognising that Serious Youth Violence affects the whole community;
a) call upon the National Church Institutions to recognise the opportunity the Church of England has to contribute to understanding of Serious Youth Violence and strategies to prevent it and to make available resources for those affected;
b) call upon Diocesan Boards of Education to recognise how the use of Exclusions impacts on serious youth violence and encourage alternative provision;
c) call upon dioceses to resource:
i) information about locally based resource and support networks, and training for church leaders in best practice for supporting those affected by Serious Youth Violence, including gun and knife crime, ii) partnership work with statutory organisations and wider civil society to provide pastoral care for people affected by serious youth violence.

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