An urgent review of the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders on young children is needed, a report suggests.
Asbos were introduced to counter anti-social behaviour
A think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, believes that Asbos can be counter-productive when imposed on the very young.
It also calls for an extension of the Sure Start scheme for disadvantaged children, to try to divert them away from criminal activity.
The Tories claim Asbos have become a "badge of honour".
Asbos were introduced nine years ago to help stem anti-social behaviour.
But the IPPR says Asbos on their own do not work, especially on children under 12. Instead, researchers say, the orders can work as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The think-tank believes that the Sure Start scheme is a better alternative, targeting five to 12-year-olds and their families who are at the highest risk of becoming criminals.
These families can also be provided with help such as parenting groups and counselling.
Shadow home secretary David Davis said the report highlights the failure of the government's policies on anti-social behaviour.
"We have been calling for years for a proper assessment of the Asbo regime," he said.
"Whilst some Asbos work, most don't. Indeed, to many they have become a 'badge of honour'."
A government spokesperson said: "The cross-government Youth Crime Action Plan, to be published summer 2008, will set out how we will reduce the number of young people committing offences."
"This work will develop practical ways to support young people to stay out of trouble and to tackle youth offending, where young people have already entered the Criminal Justice System.
"The views of young people themselves will be key - both in terms of defining the problem and the solutions."