How to have a conversation with young people about knives

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Written by Claire, a specialist youth worker from the Cynnydd project.

Starting a conversation about knife carrying can be challenging. Still, as a parent, guardian, or someone who works with young people, you play an important role in their safety and well-being.

This guide draws on my 25 years of experience in helping young people involved in knife and drug crime. It will help you talk to a young person you’re worried about in a helpful and straightforward way.

Create the right environment

Begin by choosing a comfortable and private setting where you both feel at ease. A calm environment encourages open and honest communication. Pick a time when both of you feel relaxed, allowing enough time for thoughtful and meaningful discussion.

Set out your concerns

  • Express your concern for their wellbeing: Start by affirming that your primary concern is their safety and happiness. This conversation is rooted in love and a desire to protect them.
  • Discuss the risks: It’s vital to convey that carrying a knife leads to increased danger, not safety. Carrying a knife can lead to dangerous situations and legal trouble that will affect your future job prospects.
  • Understand their perspective: Many young people carry knives out of fear. Encourage them to share their worries openly. Let them know it’s normal to feel scared, but carrying a knife is not a solution. Listen and troubleshoot problems together

Listen and troubleshoot together

Give the young person space to voice their thoughts and feelings. Ask open-ended questions that let them explain their feelings and thoughts. Together, explore solutions to the issues they raise and ways they can feel safer.

Emphasise the importance of choices

  • Finding a path forward: For those already involved in carrying a knife or some form of crime, emphasise that there is always a way out. Discuss support systems and resources available, along with specific people they can turn to, like a trusted teacher, youth worker, or family member.
  • False bravery and the power of walking away: Talk about the concept of “false bravery.” Carrying a knife might feel empowering, but it’s a dangerous illusion. True courage is often shown by choosing to walk away from a confrontation, especially when someone else is armed.

Do your best to answer any questions

The know the facts resource will help you understand this issue and has links to further information. If you can’t answer any questions, you may wish to work together to find the answers online.


This conversation is not just about warning them of the dangers but also about building trust and understanding. Your role is to guide, support, and empower them to make safer, smarter decisions.

Think of this talk as the first step in a journey you’re taking together to keep them safe.

Support available for young people

There are plenty of schemes and resources aimed at helping a young person at risk of carrying a knife or becoming involved in crime more generally. Here are some examples:

  • St GilesSt Giles has been at the forefront of helping young people trapped in county line exploitation for nearly 10 years.
  • Cynnydd projectThe Cynnydd project works with young people between 11 and 24 years old who are at risk of becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training). This project, led by Pembrokeshire County Council, aims to help young people overcome or manage any issues that are contributing to their disengagement from mainstream education.
  • Braver Choices – A programme delivered by Media Academy Cymru which supports children and young people who involved in or at risk of using weapons.
  • Premier League Kicks Programme – This programme creates opportunities for young people at risk of anti-social behaviour, youth violence and/or from high-need areas to regularly engage in football, sport, mentoring and personal development opportunities. There’s a Cardiff City FC Kicks and a Swansea City FC Kicks.
  • All Wales Fire and Rescue Service Youth provision – Delivers a variety of youth intervention programmes aimed at those aged between 11 – 25 years. The programmes work to ensure that children and young people are listened to and have the right support and education to help make positive decisions.
    Learn more:
  • Childline – A free, private, and confidential service where you can talk about anything. Childline will not disclose information and can refer young people to local youth services where they can receive tailored support.
    Call 0800 1111 or visit the Childline website.
  • Fearless is a website where you can access non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality. What makes this site different is it also provides you with a safe place to give information to us about crime 100% anonymously.
  • Meic Meic is the helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. From finding out what’s going on in their local area to help dealing with a tricky situation, Meic will listen without judgement and will help by giving information, useful advice and the support.
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