“Shocking” sexual violence is being carried out by children against other children as young as 11, according to an official report.
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England said the perpetrators could be 12 or 13, and rape is seen as “normal and inevitable” in some areas, especially among gangs.
Its report said bullying and sexist attitudes existed across the country.
Council chiefs said work by agencies on child protection needed to improve.
The report is the result of a two-year inquiry by the children’s commissioner into child exploitation and gangs.
It is being published alongside research on young people’s understanding of consent to sex, and a study on the pressures on young people who have been raised in gang-affected neighbourhoods.
The report says legislation is there to protect children but agencies from the police to social services need to become far better at spotting children at risk and providing them with the necessary protection.