A GANG of violent youngsters are targeting lone children, attacking them and filming the assault.

On Thursday, a 12-year-old boy at a bus stop in The Boulevard, Worthing, was singled out by three teenagers. Two punched him to the ground where they continued attacking him.

It was the latest in a spate of similar incidents.

Police revealed the extent of the problem after a video of a group of young boys forcing a child to his knees then repeatedly punching, stamping and kicking him in the head circulated online.

Officers said the attack, which happened in Worthing, was reported to them by a secondary school, which had been informed by a concerned parent.

Police then “uncovered a wider picture of violence involving and affecting young people in the town”.

Superintendent of Adur and Worthing Miles Ockwell said: “We saw that (the video) and began a criminal investigation which uncovered there were a small group of young people who had been assaulting other young people in that area for a period of time.

“We don’t know exactly how long for. The incident in the video was probably the worst in terms of seriousness, but there were others.

“We found other incidents where they had singled out children and subjected them to assault and filmed it.

“We are talking about 11, 12 and 13-year-olds, and the perpetrators are very young themselves.”

Supt Ockwell said three of the boys in the video had been convicted for offences including assault, public order and criminal damage.

He said the force “know all of the boys” in the video.

He said: “There are more offences which are going through the justice system at the moment. There are a number of cases with the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration of charges against five different young people. These are for the same sort of thing.

“We have uncovered other offences and they are going through the criminal justice system.”

The officer also warned that the culture of violence could spread.

Supt Ockwell said: “What we have also got is other young people are turning to violence away from this core group. You have a couple of key individuals, young people, who are influencing others. They are the focus of our investigation, they are instigating violence and happy to do so.”

Supt Ockwell said the video of the vicious attack had surfaced on social media the day after two teenagers were stabbed in the Worthing area.

A 16-year-old boy was left in a serious condition after being attacked at Goring Station on October 1. It followed the stabbing of a 16-year-old in South Farm Road, Worthing, an hour earlier.

Police think the two incidents are linked and detained two boys, aged 13 and 14, who have now been released on bail under strict conditions.

Supt Ockwell said: “I can’t say it is directly linked [to the youth violence] but it is another incident of serious violence which could have been worse.”

Now the force is working with schools in the area, as well as Adur and Worthing councils and West Sussex County Council, to crack down on the behaviour.

He said: “We had a meeting last week with the headteachers of ten secondary schools and members of the district and county councils to understand why this is happening and put into place other means of addressing it.

“Obviously we have the police investigation which will continue.

“We have extra funding from the Home Office.

“We have additional visible patrols already in place, paid for with this funding.

“The district council is increasing youth outreach services, engaging with young people locally and seeing why this is happening.

“We don’t want young people thinking that getting involved in violence is the thing to do. We have another meeting on Wednesday, hopefully that shows how seriously we are taking this.

“We want to make it clear this is a small cohort of young people we are dealing with.”