Hundreds of Tayside youngsters under the age of 10 have been treated for stab wounds in the last five years, new figures show.
Just under 1,550 people of all ages attended accident and emergency departments in Dundee and Perth in 2015/16 because of knife-inflicted injuries, shooting up more than 80% from 2011/12.
People were admitted into hospital because of their injuries on 565 occasions in the five years covered by the figures between 2011/12 and 2015/16.
A total of 5,729 people with blade injuries have been treated by NHS Tayside in their A&E wards in that period.
Of that figure, 245 were under the age of 10 and 191 were aged 70 or over.
An additional 974 people were aged between 10 and 20.
The figures included wounds inflicted by “cutting by knife or similar object, stabbing or puncture”.
While it is not clear how many of the injuries were intentionally inflicted, Keiran Watson, of Dundee-based 18 Plus and Eighteen and Under, is concerned by the statistics.
He said that while action had been taken to tackle the problem, more needed to be done.
“Knife crime has been a real problem in Scotland for many years — there’s a real knife culture,” he said.
“I do think a lot of very, very good work has been going on. There has been an overall reduction in knife crime across Scotland.
“That being said, one person being stabbed deliberately is too many. We always take the same line with any type of violence — working with children in early years interventions.”
Fewer than five people died from a stab wound in the period covered by the stats.
Most of those treated in A&E, 66.3%, were male.
Keiran added: “Carrying knives does not only increase the chance of injury but if you are caught with a knife you could potentially go to prison.
“Penalties for even carrying a knife are very strict. The only possible outcome of going out with a knife is that you’re going to end up in trouble.”
The shocking statistics, released by NHS Tayside under Freedom of Information legislation, highlight a growing problem in the region.
The figures also show a handful of gunshot-inflicted wounds every year. Most of those relate to male patients aged between 11 and 20 years old.