As journalists in London we report on violent incidents on an almost daily basis.

At times it feels like violence is so commonplace that you can start to become desensitised to it. But the cases that will never fail to stop you in your tracks are the ones that involve children and teenagers.

The fact that 21 teenagers were murdered in London last year is almost impossible to comprehend.

Yet this year was no freak anomaly – 14 were murdered in 2022, which followed a record high of 30 in 2021.

Looking through the pictures of the victims really brings home just how young they were. As well as a senseless waste of a young life full of potential, each killing has a devastating impact on countless family members and friends, as well as the wider community who may no longer feel safe where they live.

We simply cannot allow this to become the norm, when the news of the murder of a teenager is met by a shrug and the response that the victim is probably ‘just another drug dealer’.

While some of the teenage victims last year may have made bad decisions, for which they paid the ultimate price, that does not mean we shouldn’t do everything we can stop this from happening again. One wrong turn should not cost a teenager their life.

And the high-profile cases of Elianne Andam, who was stabbed to death on her way to school in Croydon, and Harry Pitman, who went to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks with friends and never returned, show that this problem could affect any one of us at any time.

This is why 20 local newspapers across London under the Newsquest parent company have joined forces to launch our campaign The 21.

During the month of February, we will be telling the story of each of the 21 teenagers murdered in London in 2023.

We want to show how each victim was a young person with a family and their whole life ahead of them.

We have also spoken to MPs, teachers and knife crime charities in the hope of finding out how we can stop young people becoming involved in gangs and carrying weapons on the streets of London.

If you are worried that your child may be involved in, or in danger of becoming involved in knife crime, the Ben Kinsella Trust has a guide to knife harm for parents and careers on its website here