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Knife crime crisis: ‘I started carrying a knife when I was nine’

Sephton Henry is a former gang member who had been to prison seven times before he was 23.

Now he uses his platform to talk to young people about the dangers of carrying knives and gang violence.

He told Sky News how carrying a knife affected him and how he explains to others how to get out of it.

I was probably about nine when I started carrying a knife but it wasn’t for anything. It was just for show, just for fun, that was what people did.

We had the dads always showing us their pocket knives, and how they carry them around with them and we had flick knives and we used to play with them.

It was never malicious.

After I was attacked I started wanting it for protection.

UK's surge of violence: At least 35 stabbed to death this year

UK’s surge of violence: At least 35 stabbed to death this year

I was nervous [going back on the streets], I was paranoid. At the time I didn’t know but now I can look back and see it was post-traumatic stress disorder.

Every time I would go out on the streets I would be fearful that someone was coming to get me, or even kill me.

You would hear about young boys the same age as me being killed.

[Things changed] when I became a bad man.

Most people carry knives because they are scared. But when you are a bad man you do not need a knife because everyone knows you.

I had to fight and fight and fight my way to the top.

I had to go through life situations, like prison.

I had built up a name for myself and I would walking on the streets and people did not test me.

Now, I encourage people not to carry knives by telling them to tackle what is in the mind, it starts in the mind.

If you tackle the mind and the culture you can stop knife crime.

If they are walking down the street in shirt and shoes they are going to feel different than in a tracksuit and trainers.

Sephton Henry
Sephton Henry now speaks out against knife crime

The world we live in is stereotypical.

If you are wearing a tracksuit and you are a black boy most likely people would be thinking he is some sort of something, a rogue man.

If you see someone in a suit, automatically you think he is a businessman. We have stereotypes and that is something that happens in society.

When I was a rogue man, I would only go for people who looked like me, I didn’t go for people who didn’t look like me, and that is in culture not colour.

The majority of people are carrying knives to defend themselves but then they find themselves in situations that force them to use them. It is a catch 22.

If you are put in a situation where you have no food, you don’t want to rob, but you have no food.

If you are carrying a knife they are doing it for protection but because of the surroundings and the environment they are growing up in it makes it more difficult to not have to use it.

If someone is coming to attack you, you will defend yourself.

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