Nine out of 10 schoolchildren have been victims of crime, according to a survey by the Howard League for Penal Reform out today.
Nearly three-quarters have been assaulted and more than half threatened on at least one occasion.
The survey of 3,000 schoolchildren over a period of seven years found that only a third reported incidents including theft and racism to the police or teachers, choosing to tell family members or friends instead.
Children said they felt “vulnerable and scared” and believed adults “demonized” them as perpetrators of crime when they should be viewed as victims.
Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said: “Children are rarely consulted about the impact of crime on their lives. If they were, adults would discover that children are frequently the victims of crime perpetrated by other young people.
“The majority of incidents of victimisation in this report are indeed low-level crimes taking place in schools and playgrounds. To children however, in a child-sized world, these crimes are serious enough and do matter.
“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.”