Following a series of knife crimes in the West Midlands, Schools in Birmingham are resorting to Virtual Reality (VR) as a medium to train children about the impact of knife crime. Across the city, pupils have been preoccupied with VR life-like scenarios that can potentially lead to a knife crime. They have also been tasked with making decisions as the situation escalates.
The VR life-like experience is called Virtual_Decisions: Knives. It is set in the city and developed with many interactive narratives. The Virtual_Decisions: Knives was developed by an educational tech company known as Round Midnight.
The doubling figure of knife crimes was the big draw that led to the adoption of this VR experience. According to the figures published last year, about 380 people under the age of 18 were arrested for knife crime offenses in 2021. That was double the number five years earlier.
In the following months leading up to May 2022, 836 children under the age of 16 were caught up in knife crimes in the same region. On the bright side, The Virtual Reality experience has been delivered to more than 15,000 children aged 11 to 14.
The main aim of this experience is to challenge the perceptions of the impact of knife crime on individuals and their communities. This would be a major eye-opener to the teens, which could gradually discourage further involvement in crime.
Adam Ahmed, a member of the workshop, explains how a close relative almost lost his life after being stabbed in the chest eight years ago.
He said: “A lot of young people that commit certain offences, they are not criminals, they are just responding to a situation where they are scared.”
So far, the program has had a significant impact on the education system of Birmingham. Recently, it received an innovation award at the Education Awards in 2023.
Due to its innovative approach to managing young people, Round Midnight has also received support and recognition from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, the Home Office, and Meta. Claire Downes.
The Director of Round Midnight, went ahead to express the company goal, stating; “We are passionate about using technology and creativity to engage young people in meaningful learning experiences that can change their lives for the better.”
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