Up to 12,000 school pupils throughout Scotland are having their perceptions on knives challenged in the coming months by a touring theatre performance.
The Balisong, another name for a butterfly knife, is a No Knives Better Lives initiative, written by Jennifer Adam, developed in collaboration with young people. In the play, three teenagers discuss the circumstances leading to an incident where their friend stabs someone and whether they could have done more to stop it.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP attended a performance of The Balisong at Ardrossan Academy this morning and said:
“While I was struck by the effectiveness of drama in conveying this important message, I was equally struck by the conversations that took place among pupils immediately afterwards.
“Some young people previously indicated they would not tell anyone if someone they knew was in possession of a knife. What I witnessed, and what I’m told is taking place in other schools, is the instant behaviour change The Balisong delivers.”
Head of Ardrossan Academy, Jamie Milligan said:
“We were delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to our school today. The No Knives Better Lives programme is one that we support as a school and this drama performance helps to reinforce our key messages to young people and families about responsible citizenship, violence reduction and promoting positive relationships in school and in society at large."
Added Kenneth Gibson MSP:
“The Cabinet Secretary chose to come to Ardrossan because North Ayrshire has led the way in reducing knife crime. Over the last decade the incidence of knife crime in Scotland has fallen by 67%. In North Ayrshire by 83%. Nevertheless, although homicide is now at record low levels, 29 of the 61 people who were the victims of homicide in Scotland last year died after being stabbed and, tragically, such fatalities continue here in North Ayrshire.
“Initiatives such as The Balisong are vital in dissuading young people from carrying knives, making Scotland a safer, better place for all.”
Led by national agency YouthLink Scotland as part of the No Knives Better Lives programme, The Balisong is a collaboration between youth work charity Fast Forward and Strange Town theatre company.
The play is expected to be performed at 64 schools over the next few months.
No Knives, Better Lives is an SNP Government-funded youth engagement programme that is reducing the incidence of violence and knife carrying among young people. Targeting ages 11-18, the programme raises awareness of the potentially devastating risks and consequences associated with carrying a knife and encourages young people to make positive life choices.