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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Birmingham schools use virtual reality to combat knife crime 

In response to a surge in knife-related incidents in the West Midlands, schools in Birmingham are taking a proactive approach by incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) to educate children about the serious implications of such actions. 

Pupils are actively engaged in VR scenarios, making decisions as unfolding situations develop, as part of a program known as Virtual_Decisions: Knives. This innovative initiative is spearheaded by the educational technology company Round Midnight.

The adoption of this VR experience is prompted by the alarming rise in knife crimes, evident in the arrest of 380 individuals under the age of 18 for such offenses in 2021, marking a twofold increase compared to five years earlier. 

A concerning escalation continued into the months leading up to May 2022, with 836 children under 16 becoming entangled in knife-related incidents in the same region. However, on a positive note, the Virtual Reality training has reached over 15,000 children aged 11 to 14.

The primary objective of this immersive experience extends beyond statistical figures. It seeks to challenge and reshape the perceptions of young individuals regarding the profound impact of knife crimes on both individuals and their broader communities. The hope is that this experiential learning will serve as a compelling deterrent, steering youth away from further involvement in criminal activities.

Adam Ahmed, an active participant in the workshop, provides a testament to the program's relevance by sharing a personal story. He emphasizes that many young individuals who find themselves involved in certain offenses are not inherently criminals but rather respond to situations fraught with fear.

The impact of the program extends beyond individual experiences, significantly influencing the educational landscape of Birmingham. This recognition is underscored by the program receiving an esteemed innovation award at the 2023 Education Awards. 

Round Midnight, owing to its pioneering approach, has gained support from key entities such as the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, the Home Office, and Meta. Claire Downes, the Director of Round Midnight, articulates the company's overarching goal is at a commitment to leveraging technology and creativity to engage young minds in transformative learning experiences that hold the potential to positively alter the trajectory of their lives.


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