CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Eight-year-old takes knife to primary school and threatens to ‘cut’ classmate

Councillor says school's handling shows "how we fail to support children"

27 March, 2018 — By William McLennan

A letter of apology was read at the Town Hall

A PRIMARY school failed to alert authorities after an eight-year-old boy brought a knife to class and held it against another pupil’s throat, a council meeting was told.

A letter of apology from the boy was read at the Town Hall last night (Monday) by Conservative councillor Leila Roy during a meeting organised in response to the deaths of two young men on one night last month.

The letter said: “I am so sorry for what I did yesterday and if I was you I would feel very scared. I should never say that I am going to cut you and I should not have taken the pocket knife from [the teacher’s] desk in the first place. I hope you feel better and a bit less scared.”

It is understood the Swiss Army knife was brought to school by the same pupil and had been confiscated, but returned at the end of the day. It is accepted that a threat was made, but Camden Council said “it is not clear whether the blade had been unfolded or not”.

The mother of the boy who was threatened with the knife told the New Journal: “I was in shock and so was [my son]. We just couldn’t believe it happened. It’s not the kind of thing you expect. In high schools in Camden, yes, but not in a primary school.”

“I’m worried, not just for my child, but for the other kids. I want this not to happen to anyone else. He wasn’t injured, but it’s the idea of him being threatened. Seeing it in the words of the eight-year-old kid was just shocking. He obviously knew he had done wrong. That’s scary.”

She said it was “worrying” that it was not immediately reported to the council, who oversee the school, adding: “It was kind of brushed under the carpet.”

The council said it “handled it in the proper way when it was reported to us,” but accepted the school had lessons to learn and has since “reviewed its procedures”.

Cllr Roy said the handling of the threat demonstrates “how we fail to support children in primary school”.

Speaking at the Town Hall meeting, she said: “That is a child who brought a knife to primary school and put it on another child’s throat and the headteacher decided not to report it to the council or the police. I did the reports. It is my opinion that when those kind of things happen to eight-year-olds in our primary schools, we can help.”

Within the space of two hours on February 20, 17-year-old Abdikarim Hassan was killed in Kentish Town and Sadiq Aadam, 20, was stabbed to death in Queen’s Crescent.

A third victim was said to be “lucky to be alive” after being stabbed in Somers Town. Police believe all three attacks are linked.

Two days before the spate of stabbings, 19-year-old Lewis Blackman, who grew up on the Peckwater Estate, was stabbed to death in West London.

Mr Aadam was the third members of his family to be stabbed to death, after his brother was killed in Mornington Crescent in September and his cousin Mohamed Abdullahi was murdered in York Way in 2013.

Aydarus Ahmed, the uncle of Mr Aadam and father of Mr Abdullahi, who attended the meeting, said that the letter reinforced his long-held belief that more should be done to educate primary school children on the dangers of knife crime.

The mother of the boy who was threatened said: “For me the whole reason was to bring it to attention, so the child can get help. I can understand there’s an issue there. The child shouldn’t have had the knife in the beginning, especially not to threaten another child with it.”

She said victims or or reformed offenders of crime should give assemblies explaining “that is is not appropriate and affects people through their lives, for years to come”.

She added: “You can tailor it to be age-appropriate, but from years 4 and above, the children are clued up. It’s not the same as when we were children.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The pocket knife was brought into school by a pupil and voluntarily handed into the teacher. The incident occurred in the corridor after the boy had retrieved it at the end of the school day.

“A threat was made but it is not clear whether the blade had been unfolded or not. The incident was reported to the Council and logged on our system in the correct way and an assessment was carried out and evaluated with the appropriate agencies. The letter was written as an apology as part of ‘reparation’ for what happened.

“Clearly there were lessons for the school, which has since reviewed its procedures, to learn from the incident but we are satisfied that the council handled it in the proper way when it was reported to us.”

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