Melbourne, May 3 : Child crime rates have experienced a dramatic increase with almost 10,000 children aged 14 and below being accused of committing one crime or the other last year, according to Victoria, Australia, police.
The statistics released by the cops has shown that almost 18 per cent of the children between 10-14 years of age were been cautioned, arrested or ordered to appear in the court, in year 2006-07.
Exposure to sex, violence and alcohol, broken families, and boredom in sprawling housing estates have been blamed for surging kids accused of robbery, assault, rape and other offences.
Victoria Police youth affairs office head Inspector Steve Soden said that easy access to sexual and violent images through mobiles and Internet and a lack of services in Melbourne's growth corridors has increased boredom and potential criminal behaviour in children.
He also said that the kids were growing up faster than previous, generations, thus posing a huge challenge for parents and authorities.
The figures showed that 9860 children between 10 to14 yrs were accused of committing crimes last year.
It was 1,532 more than the year before, and almost a third of all alleged juvenile offenders. According to the data, 2119 children were accused of shoplifting, 1642 for damaging property, 1355 for burglary, 1029 for assault and 1022 were accused of stealing cars or their contents, reports News.com.au
Dozens were also interrogated over robbery, arson and sex offences that also included 24 alleged rapists.
Insp Soden said locking up the youngest offenders only heightened the risk of them becoming career criminals.
Police are joining forces with welfare, health and education authorities to tackle the crime problem and keep troubled kids out of jail.