Officials in Hong Kong have claimed that 750 of the protesters arrested during four months of civil unrest are children.
Government official Matthew Cheung said at a press conference that 750 out of the 2,379 people arrested since June were under 18, and a further 104 were under 16.
He claimed the statistics were “shocking and heartbreaking” and was talking ahead of expected further protests taking place this weekend.
Cheung appealed to parents and teachers to prevent children from demonstrating and taking part in “illegal or violent acts”.
He would that those youngsters detained could “end up destroying” their futures.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said after school term started last month, nearly 40% of those arrested were under 18.
The numbers are high despite the fact that the protests have become increasingly violent in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, a teenager was shot at close range by a policeman during demonstrations on China’s National Day.
Among those who have been injured during the protests include an eleven-year-old.
In a bid to crack down on protestors, the Hong Kong government has announced a ban on the use of face masks, a draconian law, last used by the British when it was the colonial ruler.
The government has also ensured that Hong Kong schools get parents to sign a form that masks should not be worn inside or outside premises.
“The gap between the young people and the officials is impossible to bridge now,” Kenneth Chan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University told the Guardian.
“It is a total breakdown of trust between the government and young people.
“It can only get worse because Carrie Lam has nothing but harsh measures to suppress and intimidate the young people and their parents.”
One volunteer group has even been set up to help young protestors, called Protect the Children.