I've been paying close attention to the reports that a prominent British Grime artist has been charged with assault after a domestic incident. He’ll appear in court next month. I don't know what happened, everything is alleged, but I’m disappointed - he has a huge influence.
Over the years I've spent some time in a Transforming Lives for Good centre in Bradford, speaking to the young people there. The team would often ask me to come in as they saw me as a ‘strong, Christian man, a role model for the boys.’ It’s a huge compliment, but it carries a lot of responsibility. Whatever I do and say must reflect Jesus and demonstrate a good way to live and treat others. I take it seriously.
I wasn't surprised by the influence someone like this Grime artist held among the kids, they would often sing his songs. So these reports have broken my heart. What he says and what he does carries weight for hundreds of thousands of young people. What he models, what he values and how he responds leave a mark on the minds of young men and women.
I’m disappointed that an influencer might be modelling violence as the answer, abusing women and then covering it up.
I’m disappointed that prominent male celebrities have failed to model something better. In a country where 1.1 million children are growing up without a father figure in their lives, it really matters what our male role models are teaching our young men and women.
It’s why our First Man Standing initiative is so important. It challenges us to take a stand against violence against women. We’ve looked at lots of ways men can do that, on the streets, in the gym or with their mates. But that can be more than just reacting when we see it, I think we can stop it happening in the first place. It needs more of us to step up and commit to walking alongside young men to help them see what it really means to be a man. If we provide an alternative type of masculinity to the one they see in the news, listen to in songs and watch on TV, we might actually see a community that looks a little safer for everyone.