Children as young as six have been treated for cannabis addiction in Manchester, a drugs expert has said.
Drug specialists also reported regularly seeing addicts aged eight and nine referred to them.
They said the children suffered from paranoia, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
One drugs worker said the youngest child he had dealt with was six – and that addiction was usually just one of a series of problems youngsters face.
More than 90,000 children in Scotland live in “severe poverty”, according to a study by Save the Children (STC).
The charity has classified that just under 10% of the country’s one million youngsters as living in its worst poverty bracket.
It comprises children aged 15 or under living with two parents who bring home less than £7,000 a year after paying for housing costs.
The statistic is in the charity’s Living Below the Radar report.
STC’s findings, which were published on Tuesday, suggest that one third of children in severe poverty cannot afford play equipment such as a bike or a football, while a quarter miss out on going to toddler or play groups once a week.
The report also found that about 20% of the under-privileged youngsters cannot afford to celebrate occasions like Christmas or birthdays.
Violence is seen as a “major problem for young people” by more than 80% of 11 to 16-year-olds, according to a survey for a children’s charity.
The NSPCC survey found that 42% of children had been hit, punched or kicked at secondary school.
Three-quarters had been bullied at school, while one in four had seen adults in the family being violent.
The charity wants Gordon Brown to use his first 100 days as prime minister to tackle violence against children.
According to the survey, large number of UK youngsters were witnesses to violence, with 59% saying they had seen violence or bullying between young people on the street.
Children are struggling to make friends at school because they spend too long playing computer games and listening to MP3 players, according to teachers.
An increase in “solitary pastimes” has damaged children’s social skills and fuelled feelings of loneliness among a generation of young people, they say.
The findings, in a survey of primary teachers by Save The Children, come amid growing concerns that the toxic mix of modern life, including exposure to electronic entertainment, junk food and over-competitive schooling, is poisoning childhood.
More than 70 per cent of teachers said that increased use of games consoles, mobile phones, the internet and MP3 players has harmed children’s ability to interact with their peers.
A third said that, since they started teaching, they had seen an increase in the number of pupils who struggle to make friends and more children who stand alone in the playground or classroom.
Britain has the second highest child death rate among the 24 richest countries in the world, with infants in the UK twice as likely to die before the age of five as children in Sweden, a study has shown.
The researchers, from Dundee University, who link relatively high infant mortality with income inequality, found that in the UK the gap between the haves and the have-nots was the third biggest among the 24 countries. They calculated that the top 20 per cent of people in the UK have more than 2.5 times the income of the bottom 40 per cent, almost double the difference in Japan.
Their work, which is reported this week in the Journal of Public Health, analysed Unicef data on child mortality and income inequality. The study comes 14 years after the UK and other “Anglo-American” rich countries were strongly criticised in a Unicef study on child neglect in wealthy nations. That study did not report on child death rates but at that time the UK ranked 15th for child mortality;the new research shows it has now dropped to joint 22nd, just above the US.
One in three secondary school pupils is skipping school.
Although ministers have spent £1billion trying to tackle truancy, figures show that almost a million children, aged 11 and over, dodged some of their lessons in the last school year.
Almost 220,000 “persistent absentees” miss the equivalent of nearly two days a week through truancy, illness or term-time holidays.
And the problem is much worse than previously thought. A new system of collecting data has found that truancy levels are 18 per cent higher than previous Government statistics showed. The difference amounts to an extra 7,000 skipping school every day.
A shock rise in child poverty and income inequality has forced the UK government to abandon its strategy of raising social security payments to ensure poor families’ incomes keep pace with the rest of society.
Official figures on Tuesday showed the government way off course in its ambition to halve the number of children living in households below the poverty line between 1998-99 and 2010-11.
In 2005-06, 2.8m children lived in households with incomes below 60 per cent of the national median, the government’s preferred measured of relative poverty, an unexpected increase of 100,000 over 2004-05.