Children educated to avoid gangs31/07/17Education
The UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield has said that school pupils should be taught to avoid being introduced to gang culture and exploitation by older criminals.
Longfield said personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) lessons should help children to spot when they are being targeted by gangs, following reports of children being used as “money mules” by criminals.
She added that those children looking for “a sense of belonging, fast money” or “glamour” were at risk. The commissioner’s research found that 46,000 children in England are involved in gangs.
Speaking to the BBC, Longfield added that children as young as ten were being recruited into gangs that could be “extremely violent, usually intimidatory and sexually abusive, particularly towards girls.
“There are horrific situations that young people are getting themselves into.”
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the fraud prevention organisation Cifas, said some were being persuaded to hand over access to their bank accounts for criminal money laundering purposes.
Dukes added: “Criminals, of course, prey on the most vulnerable, and they’re preying on younger people because of their lack of knowledge, in particular, about what is, effectively, money laundering.”
Earlier this year, Westminster announced that PSHE would be made compulsory in all state schools. As a result, the government is in consultation on what to include in the permanent curriculum, but as of yet, there is no timetable for its introduction.
The PSHE Association said it supported the call for compulsory lessons to help young people understand “the specific risks of gang membership for individuals, families and communities”.
A spokesman added that PSHE education “gives pupils the knowledge and skills to better understand peer influence, and helps them recognise and avoid exploitative relationships”.
The UK government is currently consulting on what to include in the curriculum, as well as when it could be introduced.