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Chuka Umunna: youth bloodshed “shames our society"

SOLUTIONS: Chuka Umunna says we need to take a fresh look at the problem of violence among young people

CHUKA UMUNNA will deliver a speech on the lack of progress and political leadership from Westminster and its connection to the ongoing serious youth violence in the capital as part of event organised by independent think-tank Demos.

Umunna will reflect on the failures to adequately respond to the killings of young people on the streets of London at an event in Brixton this evening.

The Labour MP for Streatham will encourage the audience to see the issue of violence as one that goes beyond the demographic of black young men.

He will state: “Let’s be absolutely clear: this is not simply an issue of black boys killing other black boys in social deprived neighbourhoods. It must not be put into a box as if it only affects one part of society.

“You see…we live cheek by jowl in this city - you cannot gate off your family from what is happening in the rest of the community. Anyone with a teenage son worries when he is out - parents across London know this.”

Umunna, who is a member of the government’s serious violence taskforce, will say: “By August of that year 17 teenagers had been shot or stabbed to death in London. It was grim, but here we are today, eleven years later, and already this year 21 teenagers have been stabbed in London alone.

“A lot has changed over fifteen years but it shames our society that the bloodshed continues.

“We now need to take a fresh look at this problem because we have failed to stop this tragedy.”

Umunna will also speak on the disempowerment of young people and share his thoughts on the solutions and shift in policy that is needed to make a difference.

He is expected to say: “Society has been creating the conditions for this violence and we have been turning our backs on it. Too many of our young people feel disrespected and disenfranchised by society.

“Reciprocity is at the heart of my politics – the idea that the practice of give and take ensures a fair balance between different interests in society. You receive the support and care of the community and in return, you contribute your share and abide by the accepted rules and norms. Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself.

“I believe that this mutual obligation between society and the young people we are talking about has broken down. They are leading parallel lives with their own values system. I’m not excusing the extreme violence – there is never an excuse for it – but it goes to the heart of the problem.”

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