Essex: Almost 100 schools sign up to knife crime workshops

Caroline Shearer with her son Jay

Caroline Shearer with her son Jay

Almost 100 schools in north Essex have backed an anti-knife campaign set up by a mother whose son was stabbed to death.

Caroline Shearer, whose 17-year-old son, Jay Whiston, was killed at a house party in Lexden last September, decided to channel her grief by setting up a charity called Only Cowards Carry to educate young people on the consequences of carrying a knife or any other dangerous weapon.

The campaign has been backed by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex, Nick Alston, who has awarded £5,000 to the scheme through the PCC’s New Initiatives Fund.

As part of its work, the charity has devised a weapons awareness workshop for schoolchildren designed to convey the impacts of street violence.

The concept has proved very popular and 84 primary schools and six secondary schools across Colchester and Tendring districts have requested that the workshop be delivered to their pupils over the next three months.

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The first people due to take the workshop are students at Tendring Technology College where Jay had been studying A-levels in law and business studies prior to his death.

Mrs Shearer said: “Statistics show that young people’s mind-set change is not happening through current and past lecturing about not carrying a knife or weapon, and we believe that for a change in concept their young brains need the real-life facts about what can and unfortunately does happen when somebody carries a knife or weapon.

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“Our workshops are designed to be interactive and impactful, teaching the dangers and outcomes of choosing to carry and often using a weapon with graphic consequences, thus to make a lasting impression on that young person ultimately for the better.”

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