Children as young as seven are being used like "golf caddies" to ...
Children as young as seven are being used like "golf caddies" to carry deadly knives for older youths, a report has revealed.
Teen gang members are said to be forcing very young children to carry knives
The older teenagers are pressuring very young children to try to avoid being caught, the Home Affairs Committee report found.
It also revealed that children believe blades are so widespread that they have to arm themselves to keep safe.
The report claims the average age at which children begin carrying knives is just 11 years old, as they make their transition from primary to secondary school.
Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz MP called for an immediate stop to the knife crime "arms race" among children.
He said: "Young people carry knives because they fear that others are carrying knives.
"This spiralling of knife possession puts all young people at risk. Too many tragic deaths have occurred because of this.
"Some young people feel the need to protect themselves with knives. We are clearly failing them. Children, of all people, should not feel unsafe in our society."
Currently only one in five of those caught with a knife is jailed, and more knife carriers are given cautions than are imprisoned.
Making someone carry a knife for you was made illegal in 2007 with a maximum sentence of four years.
But no-one was prosecuted for the offence that year. Figures for 2008 have not been released yet.
Wesley Oger was stabbed to death four years ago by a man who began carrying knives in his teens.
His mother Ann Oakes-Odger now campaigns to educate children about the dangers of knives.
She said: "The actual shock a child being murdered in a violent way and knife crime is so personal, it's such a violent way to kill someone, it just ripples through the whole family."
Tougher sentences, coupled with more investment in prevention, are the report's main recommendations.
They come too late for Ann - but hopefully not for many other families.