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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
'Half of children' theft victims
Boy
The charity says children must talk about their experiences
Almost half of all children have had property stolen from them at school, a survey by the charity the Howard League for Penal Reform suggests.

The survey of more than 3,000 children, questioned between 1997 and 2006, also found that 18% had been the victim of theft on their way home from school.

It also suggests that 57% of children have had property deliberately damaged.

The charity claims that almost all - 95% - of those surveyed have suffered some kind of victimisation.

It refers mainly to low-level offences which took place in schools and playgrounds - 70% said they had been hit or kicked - and were unlikely to be reported to police.

'Outside world'

The survey found that 49% of those questioned had had property stolen at school.

It also suggested that 46% of young people had been called racist names.

Paul Fawcett, of Victim Support, told BBC Radio Five Live young people are "not getting support" from the "outside world" of parents, teachers and police.

As a consequence, they "feel they have to find their own solutions", many of which are violent.

Similarly, the Howard League said children were "frequently the victims of crime perpetrated by other young people".

The very institutions where children should feel safest - their school environments set up and patrolled by adults - are where children are most commonly victimised
Frances Crook
Howard League for Penal Reform

Director Frances Crook said children were rarely consulted about "the impact of crime on their lives".

"The surveys revealed that these crimes are often not reported as children think adults will not listen to them or the crime will be viewed as too small to bother with," she added.

"Ironically, the very institutions where children should feel safest - their school environments set up and patrolled by adults - are where children are most commonly victimised.

"The Howard League believes that better solutions on dealing with child victimisation and crime can be found in expanding and developing conflict resolution and mediation-based techniques into educational programmes for schools."

Youth clubs

Two-thirds of children reported incidents to parents while 28% went to police.

Youngsters surveyed said skate parks and youth clubs would keep children busy and would therefore cut crime.

The survey involved children aged between 10 and 15 in Leeds, Northamptonshire and the London boroughs of Camden, Enfield and Southwark.

Every year, between 1997 and 2006, the survey asked children about their experiences of crime in the previous twelve months.

A Home Office spokesman said the Offending Crime and Justice Survey showed that 27 per cent were victims of a personal crime during 2005.

He said: "But this is still too high a figure which is why the Home Office's Crime Strategy has placed special emphasis on tackling offending and victimisation among the young."

A great deal was being done across government to tackle offenders and support victims, he added.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Howard League for Penal Reform spokeswoman



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