By Margaret Kearns and Roisin Brady
Murder is the leading cause of death among young people in Glasgow neighbourhoods, a new report has suggested.
Easterhouse, Calton and Castlemilk, emerged as the communities where the most common cause of death in 15 to 19 year olds and young adults in their twenties was death by stabbing or other violent crime.
Murder rates in these Glaswegian neighbourhoods are four times higher than the UK average, with suicide and traffic incidents being the leading cause of death among young people in other parts of Britain. These barely register in the Scottish statistics, with drug-related deaths being the second highest killer of Glaswegian youngsters.
The report, published by Sheffield and Bristol Universities, highlighted the leading causes of death among British young people over the last twenty years. These alarming statistics echo the recent knife-crime and gangland epidemic that has plagued the UK. Fifty one percent of Glasgow teens consider themselves part of a gang, with the city hosting six times more gangs, per capita, than London.
At the recent Glasgow East by election, David Cameron said of social breakdown:
“The thread that links it all together passes, yes, through family breakdown, welfare dependency, debt, drugs, poverty, poor policing, inadequate housing, and failing schools, but it is a thread that goes deeper, as we see a society that is in danger of losing its sense of personal responsibility, social responsibility, common decency and, yes, even public morality.”
Police are attempting to tackle the root causes of these problems by addressing various social disadvantages, such as one in nine Glasgow residents living in comdemned homes, and one in five finding themselves unemployed.
Ross Deuchar of Strathclyde University has been researching gang mentality amongst Glasgow youths. “I am talking with a lot of gang members and their lifestyle is something they really enjoy talking about…a lot of these youngsters come from dysfunctional backgrounds. They have never really been listened to or had role models someone coming along and listening to their views could be a very effective tool”
Measures have been implemented by police to encourage gangs to take an active role in solving the crime problems within Glasgow. As recently as last week police met with over 200 gang members in the city at a summit to discuss the problems arising. The event was on a voluntary basis and follows U.S. models which have proved effective across the Atlantic especially in high crime areas such as Boston and Chicago. The aim of this collective forum was to debate alternative lifestyles for gang members and disadvantaged youths as well as delivering the message that there will be a zero tolerance on violent crime from Glasgow Police. Representatives of the Social Services also attended the event to offer support to those suffering from substance abuse problems.