Children may be more vulnerable to becoming a victim of a stabbing on their way home from school, a new study suggests.
The period immediately after classes end accounts for a large proportion of stabbings involving young victims.
These incidents predominantly happen close to home or school, according to new research published in the journal BMJ Open.
This report comes after a series of fatal stabbings in London, as knife crime reaches its highest level since 2011.
The authors highlight how the "incidence of interpersonal violence involving knives" has progressively increased in the UK in recent years.
The research team analysed data on 1,824 people aged 25 and under who had been treated for a stab injury at a London trauma centre over the course of 11 years.
Of these, 172 were children, 861 were aged 16 to 19, and 791 were aged 20 to 24.
'Significant peak' between 4pm and 6pm
A police officer lets a member of the public out of a crime scene near 'Billy Fury Way', where a teenager was stabbed on November 6, 2018 in London.
Between 2004 and 2014, the annual number of presentations for "assault resulting in penetrating trauma" increased by an average of 25% each year.
Almost three-quarters of victims were from poorer neighbourhoods compared with just 1% from richer areas.
The frequency of stab injuries rose sharply in the late teenage years, reaching a peak at age 18.
Children were more likely to be stabbed on a school day than the older age group.
Among children, the researchers noted a "significant peak in frequency" between 4pm and 6pm.
Stabbings during this timeframe accounted for 22% of all child stabbings compared with 11% in young adults.
Within 5km of home
In comparison, young adults aged 16 and over were more likely to be stabbed after midnight.
The authors wrote: "In children the spike in frequency in the late afternoon and early evening was attributable to incidents occurring on school days.
"The majority of stabbings in this time frame on school days occurred within 5km of home, which encompasses the average distance from home to school in children living in London."
This means that a "targeted preventative strategy" could help reduce stabbings among youngsters, according to the researchers from Queen Mary University of London, London Ambulance Service, Newcastle University, Barts Health NHS Trust and South East Coast Ambulance Service.
They also called for better educational programmes to reduce violence.
"The sharp increase in stab injuries between the ages of 14 and 16 suggests that educational programmes and other preventative interventions are best delivered in primary or early secondary education," they wrote.