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THE Damilola Taylor tragedy has rekindled doubts about the social and moral environment that our children are trying to grow up in. It has also prompted scathing media criticism of Peckham's schools even though the murder was committed after school hours.

But statistics from the United States, presented on the web by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), provide an uncomfortable reminder of how much more dangerous our city streets - and schools - could become for children. Between July 1, 1997 and June 30, 1998 there were 60 school-related deaths in the US involving violence - 47 of them classified as homicide.

In1998 alone there were also 253,000 serious incidents in schools involving rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.

One of the few consolations is that young people feel that their schools are now safer than they were a few years ago. The percentage of secondary pupils who avoided parts of their school because of the dangers lurking there declined between 1995 and 1999 - from 9 to 5 per cent.

The NCES website is at http:nces. and the new report on violence is at :nces.ed. govpubs2001crime2000 Readers can email suggestions on future Internet Insights to Sam Saunders at

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