Young 'face repeated bullying and theft'

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A third of young people aged 12 to 15 have been assaulted in the past eight months, according to a survey published yesterday.

But the Home Office study discovered that only about 40 per cent of all crimes and harassment were reported to parents, teachers and the police.

A sample of 1,350 young people, who were sent questionnaires in 1992, found that repeated bullying, harassment and theft were commonplace, particularly near or in school.

Seven out of ten of the young people said they had been victimised in the eight months before being questioned. A fifth had property stolen while away from home and a fifth had been harassed by adults and a fifth people their own age.

The vast majority of incidents were not considered crimes, although in a fifth of the cases the 12 to 15-year-olds thought the law had been broken.

Four in 10 young people felt very or fairly unsafe when out alone at night, and a third or more said they worried about mugging, stranger assaults and sexual pestering - a higher proportion than among adults.

The report, Young People, Victimisation and the Police, found that the young had a surprisingly positive attitude towards the police. About 60 per cent said the police did a very or fairly good job when they came into contact with them.However about 40 per cent of the group said they believed burglary, car theft, cannabis use and shoplifting, were not very serious or not at all serious.

The study concluded: "It would be misleading to present the findings as revealing a new problem of teenage crime; but equally, one should not dismiss the very considerable risks that teenagers run of various forms of thefts and assaults."