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Youth stabbings, slashings across New York City increased by 48% in 2023, NYPD says

CBS New York Investigates 48% increase in youth stabbings, slashings
CBS New York Investigates 48% increase in youth stabbings, slashings 04:47

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NEW YORK - A new CBS New York Investigation finds the number of kids stabbed in New York City is sharply up.

It's a 48% increase from the year before, according to the NYPD.

What's driving that increase? It's a question CBS New York investigative reporter Tim McNicholas is asking from City Hall to city streets.

Geilot Fermin describes this as the worst day of his life -- the day police surrounded his 16-year-old son, bleeding in the street a block from his school in the Bronx. It's far from the American dream he envisioned.

"You come to this country chasing a dream, pursuing a better life for your family, not bringing your family to a place where there are attacks and threats and fears of walking the streets," he said in Spanish.

More than one year and six surgeries later, his son is recovering but still walks with a limp. Fermin says his son's attacker stabbed him after school because of a feud over a girl.

He asked us not to show his son's face or use his name because he doesn't want him to face any retaliation.

"It's impossible to fathom how a knife is the solution for a child or that violence is the solution, and I don't agree with it. I think there should be more support from both parents and schools," Fermin said in Spanish.

"I feel that, you know, the knives are faster to get," Awilda Cordero said.

It's a problem all too familiar to Cordero, an activist who's dedicated her life to violence prevention.

"I had a parent the other day tell me that she tells her son to carry a knife. And I was telling her, 'But why? Why would you tell your son to carry a knife?' [She said,] 'Because he has to defend himself.' I said, 'Well, that's not right. You should tell him not to defend himself like that,'" Cordero said.

Fermin's son was one of 467 minors stabbed or slashed in New York City in 2023, according to NYPD data obtained by CBS New York Investigates. That is a 48% increase from the year before, much steeper than the 6% increase in victims of all ages.

No one from the mayor's office would sit down with us for an interview on the problem, so we went directly to the mayor at a recent news conference.

"I think there's a combination of things that are giving way to the stabbings. Number one, the police department has done an amazing job of cracking down on guns. I believe over 13,000 were removed off of our streets, and you know, some young people have started to use knives," Mayor Eric Adams said.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS New York the number of kids shot in the city finally dropped in 2023 after rapidly increasing since the start of 2020, but the number of kids stabbed is the highest in years.

Police say they've found more than 1,800 knives, razors or box cutters in schools so far this school year.

Kevin O'Connor, who planned anti-violence marches as the NYPD's Youth Strategies Assistant Commissioner, is still troubled by the problem in his retirement.

"And the thing with kids is, if they're robbed or they're stabbed, there's usually a retaliation. This is what the gang wars are about. You robbed me, I'm robbing you," he said.

"We also continue to have a mental health crisis that's been identified from everybody from the City Council to the U.S. surgeon general," said Julia Davis, with the Children's Defense Fund.

The city recently announced a lawsuit against five social media companies, saying they contribute to that mental health crisis, and the mayor says some websites are worsening anxiety among students by displaying videos of school fights.

The NYPD sent us a statement encouraging people to participate in the Police Athletic League and other programs aimed at mentoring kids and keeping them safe, saying:

"The NYPD offers a variety of youth-related initiatives that focus on the challenges facing young New Yorkers as they mature into young adults, and that strive to help foster a positive outlook, education, and community-building. These programs include:

For additional information please contact the Community Affairs Bureau ( or visit the Community Affairs officer at your local police precinct."

McNicholas asked Fermin how the stabbing affected him and his family emotionally.

"There's been a change. It was normal before this. It's a more restrained, less trusting way of life," Fermin said in Spanish.

Police say a group of five people approached Fermin's son after school that day, including a 20-year-old named Roberto Delacruz. Officers arrested Delacruz for the stabbing, and he's now facing charges of attempted murder, assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

Fermin says doctors told him it's a miracle his son survived, and now, he's hoping for one more -- an end to youth violence.

Youth arrests for major felonies also jumped in 2023, about 40%.

The NYPD recently announced they're providing protective vests to all school safety agents.

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