The Government's decision to "crack down" on knife crime is more window dressing. The Nats have no idea how to deal with violent crime, and if they think youths will stop carrying knives just because they'll get punished more heavily for it, they're dreaming.
Anyone who knows anything about what makes young people tick knows that kids won't take any notice. The young people carrying the weapons are unlikely to read the paper or watch the news, so probably won't even know the law is changing. Even if they do know, what difference will it make to their behaviour? Since when has making something more risky for young people prevented them from doing it?
And how will making knives harder to buy (never mind how exactly that would work) make a difference? If someone wants a knife they can usually get one from any kitchen they happen to be in. Knives are everywhere.
The Nats' policy on law and order has nothing to do with making our streets safer. It's about presenting an image of youths out of control, and then "cracking down". This satisfies the conservative rump of our populace, who conveniently forget that many of us did stupid things when we were kids. The theme is reinforced by constant media stories about kids in trouble, disrespecting police and drinking to excess. Police reality shows depict our brave boys having to deal with mouthy kids who deserve a smack but who can't be touched because of pantywaist liberal laws.
The debate on youth drinking is another example of trying to deal with a problem the wrong way. We have a terrible booze culture in this country, but the latest measures proposed sound like simple wowserism and are unlikely to make much difference to the problem of alcohol. If you want to understand why kids don't listen to our warnings on alcohol, it's because they don't have to go very far to see adults on the piss making disgraces of themselves. Why should kids listen to the warnings their hypocritical elders give them? Young people have always had ready access to liquor, and nothing will change under the new measures proposed.
Politicians have understood for generations that it's often easier to vilify a group of people than look for solutions to complex social problems. The news media don't do nuance and are more than happy to be fed the news by lobby groups like the Sensible Sentencing Trust. And they don't even seem to bother questioning the half-truths spoken by politicians any more. For example, there is no epidemic of knife violence in this country, and knife violence rates have remained steady*. When politicians talk about a rise in knife crime, they mean a rise in rates of apprehension for carrying knives - not for using them.
But that's not a popular story. It's much easier to get furious at young people and blame them for everything.
* See this Ministry of Justice Report, which shows violence rates have remained steady