American soul singer ALEXANDER O'NEAL is urging parents to take a more active role in raising their children - to end the scourge of knife crime sweeping Britain.
The Criticize hitmaker was once a member of a street gang as a youngster but was able to get his life back on track with the guidance of his elders.
He now serves as an ambassador for The Kids Are Alright Foundation, a U.K. initiative that seeks to put an end to the knife crime epidemic currently spiralling out of control in the country.
And the star maintains parents can help quash the problem by making themselves available to their kids, who might otherwise idolise troubled youths in their community.
He says, "(The foundation is) about taking back the streets, taking back your kids and the family, being more responsible for your children's actions.
"When I was growing up, what your parents said was it. But now the kids listen to each other - because we've given them that role. I think the solution begins with the parents.
"It's very different now because when I was a child my gang experience lasted for a few years at 13, 14, but we had role models and we knew we were going to go home. Nowadays kids don't do it like that so somebody gets killed or hurt or maimed... they carry knives.
"One thing parents have to realise is it's not only happening in urban cities but suburbs. So we can't sit back and do nothing about it. If you see something that's happening, roll up your sleeves and make a difference."
The star also reveals he was devastated when a planned concert, as part of a festival in London on Saturday (11Jul09), was cancelled when a teenager was stabbed in the leg.
He explains, "It was a very difficult experience for me because I was so looking forward to performing for the people, and it was the people's concert."
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.