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An international survey has revealed that Irish students are the worst in Europe for bringing knives and other weapons to school.

Shockingly, one in eight Irish pupils between the ages of 12 and 16 have carried weapons to class, the highest rate among 10 European countries.

The revelation now raises concerns about safety in Ireland's schools.

The news comes after a recent study by the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) on homicides and knife crime in Ireland that found the country has the highest rate of killings of young men overall in western Europe. Ireland has the second highest death rate caused by the use of knives. In the first seven months of 2010, there were 11 killings in Ireland involving knives.

The rate of killings with knives inspired the launch of the Government-backed 'How Big Do You Feel' campaign last year. Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern launched the campaign to inform and educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives.

Meanwhile the Victims of Homicide group said the results of the new UN survey were shocking but not very surprising. "Why have our young people become so violent? They seem to have lost their problem-solving skills and the first resort seems to be extreme violence," said their spokeswoman Joan Dean.

Figures show that the number of violent offences involving the use of knives increased from 1,170 in 2008 to 1,264 in 2009, the highest total in seven years.