Tall fra britisk politi viser at mer enn 35.000 barn ble overfalt eller truet med våpen i Storbritannia i fjor. Hagler, håndvåpen, kniver, økser, slåsshansker, kjøttkroker og til og med bomber ble brukt til å angripe eller true 96 barn hver dag i England og Wales i løpet av 2007.
The sombre statistics –obtained by The Sunday Telegraph under freedom of information legislation – highlight the true impact of street gang culture on society.
Opposition MPs described the figures as «alarming» and demanded action from the Government.
Last week, the number of teenagers who have died this year as a result of violent attacks passed 50, after two boys were stabbed in London and Manchester.
Among the dead are Ben Kinsella, 16, the brother of ex-EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella (he was stabbed in Islington, north London, after a nightclub dispute) and Jimmy Mizen, 16, who had his throat cut in May when he refused a challenge to fight near his home in Lee, south London.
The data were obtained from 20 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, covering more than half of the population. The figures for those areas show that last year 18,403 children were attacked or threatened with a weapon, suggesting that across England and Wales as a whole there were 36,806 such incidents – one every 15 minutes.
Tallene inkluderer drap, overfall, tyveri og ran der våpen er involvert. Det er de største byene som er hardest rammet, men tallene indikerer at ungdomsvolden har spredt til mer landlige distrikter som Northumbria, Hertfordshire og Kent. Disse distriktene noterte seg for et rekordhøyt antall tilfeller som inkluderer mindreårige og våpen.
Det 16-år gamle drapsofferet Jimmy Mizens far sier at tallene viser at Storbritannia har nådd et kritisk punkt hva gjelder ungdomsvold:
«Jimmy wasn’t stabbed in a gang fight. He was stabbed in a bakery on a Saturday at lunchtime,» he said. «Our son could have been anybody’s son and until, as a society, we do something about it everyone is vulnerable.
«The violence and anger in our society are growing. I think people are realising now that we are at a critical stage.»
The shadow home secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: «This is yet more alarming evidence that violence is becoming an everyday part of life for our young people.
«This is why we need rigorous law enforcement to catch and deter violent offenders as well as action to address the causes of crime that fuel violence in the first place.»
Angela Lawrence, of Mothers Against Violence, said: «Any attack on a child has a devastating impact. Violence begets violence – it’s a vicious circle. It’s vital that we support anyone who becomes a victim at such a young age.»
A Home Office spokesman said: «Keeping young people safe and reducing youth victimisation is a top priority for the Government.
«Supporting young victims is a key part of the recently published Youth Crime Action Plan, which puts efforts to reduce the numbers of young victims at its heart.»