Reports of children sexually abusing other children have doubled from 2017 to 2019, according to official data.
BBC Panorama submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to 38 police forces in England and Wales.
The results showed there were 7,866 reports of sexual abuse among children between April 2016 and March 2017.
But, two years later, in 2018-19, the number of reports had doubled to 16,102. Reported cases fell during the pandemic, as children were locked down at home.
The programme revealed schools have become unsafe for many young children who face sexual abuse at the hands of their peers.
The majority of cases were of boys abusing girls, and in 10 per cent of the reported cases, according to the documentary, the alleged abuser was 10 years old or under.
In the latest full year of data, 2020-21, some 10,861 reports of abuse were made, despite months of lockdown and closed schools due to the Covid pandemic.
This follows reports in June this year from Ofsted which revealed sexual harassment had become ‘normalised’ among school-age children, and continued beyond the classroom to online activity.
James Mildred, spokesman for charity CARE, said government inaction on pornography had let down children. ‘The government had the chance to implement age verification safeguards, limiting access to pornography sites by children in 2017.
‘Instead, it dithered and delayed before scrapping the plans in 2019. That decision led to children continuing to access degrading and violent pornography, which motivated attacks in the offline world.’