Adults believe more than half of children across the country carry a knife for protection, a survey has found.
Some 58% said they believed young people are carrying knives because they feel vulnerable.
The survey, commissioned by children’s charity Barnardo’s and carried out by YouGov, polled 1,035 adults in British cities.
Two-thirds (66%) worried that children aged between 10 and 18 could become victims of knife crime, with 61% admitting to worrying that children feel unsafe in their neighbourhood because of knife crime.
Despite Boris Johnson’s recent crime clampdown, including extended powers to stop and search to cover an additional 8,000 officers in England and Wales and tougher sentences for criminals, only 34% of those questioned felt tougher sentences for criminals would help make neighbourhoods safer.
Instead, 65% of respondents said more youth and sports clubs, community centres and activities would make areas safer for children, and 60% felt more financial investment aimed at tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment is also key.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan called on the government to work with organisations including charities to “urgently get a grip on this national crisis”.
A separate questionnaire polled staff working at Barnardo’s who work directly with young people. It found that 90% of respondents reported that young people tell them they carry knives for protection
It come as special chicken boxes warning about the dangers of carrying a knife are to be distributed to takeaways across England and Wales by the government.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are determined to make our streets safer which is why we are recruiting 20,000 new police officers to protect our communities, and have made it easier for them to use stop and search powers.
“Our Serious Violence Strategy also focuses on steering young people away from knife crime. Our #knifefree campaign challenges the myth that carrying a knife makes you safer and we are investing over £220 million in early intervention projects.”