An average of six primary school children are being arrested every day in Britain for behaviour that was once treated as being naughty, a report has claimed.
More than 209,000 young people were detained by police in England and Wales last year with 2,117 below the age of 11.
Campaigners, however, claim that just a quarter of those children arrested are ever sentenced for a criminal offence, with most being picked up for indulging in pranks and minor mischief, the Telegraph reports.
In one case in Sussex, four youngsters were swooped upon by police after throwing sticks at a horse chestnut tree, and in another case in Cheshire an 11-year-old schoolboy was arrested on suspicion of a hate-crime after calling a classmate gay, the report said.
While the number of children arrests has fallen in recent years, The Howard League for Penal Reform said that childhood arrests can lead to numerous problems later in life with some youngsters struggling to access further education and even find work, the report added.
"Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives," Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said.
"An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect abuse or mental health issues," she said.
"As with adults, detention of children in custody is authorised for a number of reasons, including to further a criminal investigation, to uncover the identity of any suspects or because the disappearance of that person would hinder any prosecution," a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said.
"The rules for the detention of suspects are set down in law and on every occasion must be authorised by a custody officer," the spokesman said.
"Detentions of both children and adults in police custody are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are being held in accordance with the law and not for any longer than required for police investigations," he added. (ANI)