What's Gone Wrong? Signs of the times

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The Independent Online
Over the last two weeks:

On Merseyside, two 10-year-old boys were charged with the murder of two-year-old James Bulger.

On Tyneside, boys aged 13 and 14 stole a Metro and damaged three police cars only two hours after being put in local authority care, accused of mugging a pensioner. The 14-year-old had been arrested 20 times during the previous year and had 43 previous convictions.

A Tyneside policeman was on a life-support machine after being struck on the forehead by a brick hurled through his windscreen during a car chase.

In Paisley, Strathclyde, a nine-year-old girl was charged with attempted murder of an eight-week-old baby.

In Welshpool, Wales, a 17-year-old public schoolboy was jailed for nine months after setting fire to a classroom and opening gas taps in a house where his headmaster and family were sleeping.

A 13-year-old appeared in a Tyneside court accused of theft, criminal damage and setting light to a woman with lighter fuel. He had absconded from a children's home 20 times in five weeks.

In west London, a solicitor's clerk visiting a newsagent's shop was shot in the stomach by two teenage robbers.

In Luton, Bedfordshire, two youths set fire to a car with the woman owner, whom they had previously sexually assaulted, inside it.

In Sunderland, magistrates ordered three months' detention for a 13-year-old said to have stolen more than 200 cars.

A bus carrying 70 children was set alight in Newport, Gwent. Police questioned two boys, aged 13 and 15.