Most young people live in fear of being shot or attacked, according to shocking research that reveals the extent of teen-on-teen violence in Britain today.

The reality of living in an increasingly dangerous society has taken its toll on teenage minds, say the authors of a report to be published by Children and Society journal next month. Their survey shows that almost half of all children aged between nine and 16 fear being shot. Even more fear being attacked.

And while their worst fears are rarely realised, the research shows that they are rooted in violent reality. Writing on the findings, Dr Jo Deakin of the University of Manchester pointed out that while being shot was rare, most children had suffered bullying or victimisation.

"The data points to children living in a climate of fear. It is a more frightening world for kids today. They are living in a different kind of culture where they are all too aware of the worst that can happen to them."

Large numbers of children were suffering at the hands of bullies, the report explained, and school was not seen as a safe haven from the outside world.

Between 60 and 80 per cent of those terrorising young people were themselves teenage boys, the survey found. Although children are routinely taught about the danger of adult "strangers", the reality is they are twice as likely to be harassed by their peers and 15 times more likely to be attacked by them. Even sexual assault was more likely to be perpetrated by another teenager than a predatory adult.

While being late with homework used to strike fear into the hearts of schoolchildren, playground conversations are now more likely to revolve around stalkers and fear of brutal assaults or worse. And thildren are surrounded by increasingly violent images in popular culture. Teens are flocking to see Kidulthood, a film that has been accused of celebrating the new culture of violent crime among Britain's youth.

Terror of what might happen is fuelled by gangs taking over the streets in some places, according to Aimee Stratton, a teenage student from Plymouth: "Just being on the streets is a scary experience. There is definitely a climate of fear out there and people are a lot more worried about their own safety. Some girls tend to be more laddish now and more likely to join in with boys in attacking people."

It was reported last week that a pupil at a London school had bought a stab-proof vest. While children may be more likely to suffer at the hands of bullies than be knifed or shot in the streets, there is no doubt that gangs are on the rise.

Violence is a part of everyday life for 15-year-old Hamish McCallum from Redruth, Cornwall: "There has been gang fighting at my school between the chavs and the goths and you do get scared about getting caught up in the middle of it, especially with knives being brought into school. There are people that I know who are living in fear and pull sickies just so that they don't have to go into school."

MEAN STREETS

315,800 VIOLENT CRIMES from July to September 2005

80% OF CHILDREN had experienced some sort of harassment that they found frightening

40,000 YOUNG PEOPLE called helplines about bullying in 2005

29% OF SECONDARY school children have carried a knife at some time

11,110 CASES OF gun crime were recorded in the year to the end of September 2005

140,000 CHILDREN WERE given counselling by Childline in 2005

25+ PER CENT OF all rapes recorded by the police are committed against children under 16 years of age

50,000 EXTRA POLICE officers are needed to crack down on crime, according to the Victims of Crime Trust

LIVING IN FEAR

I do get scared of being kidnapped because you hear that people get mugged for their mobile in the street. There was a really big bad fight outside school recently and I really worried that it might happen again.

Fahim Aziz, 11, Whitechapel, London

I get bullied at school and sometimes they beat me up. I don't feel safe at school. I do worry sometimes about dying, like if someone comes at me with a knife.

Ben Spencer, 10, Brockley, London

My brother was out with some friends and was stabbed by a gang when he was 22. It worried me because I'm younger and a girl so I don't know what I would do if it happened to me. It really scared me and I don't go out alone. I only go out with friends now

Katy Attwood, 16, Croydon

Most young people live in fear of being shot or attacked, according to shocking research that reveals the extent of teen-on-teen violence in Britain today.

The reality of living in an increasingly dangerous society has taken its toll on teenage minds, say the authors of a report to be published by Children and Society journal next month. Their survey shows that almost half of all children aged between nine and 16 fear being shot. Even more fear being attacked.

And while their worst fears are rarely realised, the research shows that they are rooted in violent reality. Writing on the findings, Dr Jo Deakin of the University of Manchester pointed out that while being shot was rare, most children had suffered bullying or victimisation.

"The data points to children living in a climate of fear. It is a more frightening world for kids today. They are living in a different kind of culture where they are all too aware of the worst that can happen to them."

Large numbers of children were suffering at the hands of bullies, the report explained, and school was not seen as a safe haven from the outside world.

Between 60 and 80 per cent of those terrorising young people were themselves teenage boys, the survey found. Although children are routinely taught about the danger of adult "strangers", the reality is they are twice as likely to be harassed by their peers and 15 times more likely to be attacked by them. Even sexual assault was more likely to be perpetrated by another teenager than a predatory adult.

While being late with homework used to strike fear into the hearts of schoolchildren, playground conversations are now more likely to revolve around stalkers and fear of brutal assaults or worse. And thildren are surrounded by increasingly violent images in popular culture. Teens are flocking to see Kidulthood, a film that has been accused of celebrating the new culture of violent crime among Britain's youth.

Terror of what might happen is fuelled by gangs taking over the streets in some places, according to Aimee Stratton, a teenage student from Plymouth: "Just being on the streets is a scary experience. There is definitely a climate of fear out there and people are a lot more worried about their own safety. Some girls tend to be more laddish now and more likely to join in with boys in attacking people."

It was reported last week that a pupil at a London school had bought a stab-proof vest. While children may be more likely to suffer at the hands of bullies than be knifed or shot in the streets, there is no doubt that gangs are on the rise.

Violence is a part of everyday life for 15-year-old Hamish McCallum from Redruth, Cornwall: "There has been gang fighting at my school between the chavs and the goths and you do get scared about getting caught up in the middle of it, especially with knives being brought into school. There are people that I know who are living in fear and pull sickies just so that they don't have to go into school."

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