Young `tolerant' of drink

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The Independent Online
FOUR IN 10 children aged 15 and 16 admit to having been involved in criminal activity in the past year, according to research released last night. A survey carried out for the Government's Youth Justice Board found a high tolerance of under-age drinking and the use of violence as a means of retribution.

Mori researchers, who carried out the survey, found that 64 per cent of youngsters aged between 11 and 16 did not see under-age drinking as wrong and only 29 per cent thought that it was "always wrong" to use physical violence. But the study also revealed a sizeable proportion of children who retained a deep respect for the law and a far more conservative attitude to sex, drugs and wild living than previous surveys.

Half the children surveyed said under-age sex was always unacceptable and seven out of ten questioned claimed that they could "say with absolute certainty" that they had never broken the law in any respect.

Taking the drug ecstasy was seen as wrong by 84 per cent of youngsters and 71 per cent disagreed with taking cannabis.

Respect for the law was reflected in the children's fears of getting caught, with 75 per cent believing that a young person who stole a car was likely to be caught by the police. But only 14 per cent of the respondents cited concern for the victims as the most important factor in persuading them not to take part in criminal activity.

The board published the research with its first annual report, which claimed major successes in its attempts to speed the youth justice system. An overhaul of the courts system for minors will see the time from arrest to sentence in England and Wales cut from 125 days to 71 days within the next 12 months.