Senior MPs warned yesterday that Britain's youth justice system is failing and making criminals of vulnerable children.
The Commons justice committee said that the law should be changed so that only the most serious young offenders are locked up and children in care are not criminalised for "trivial incidents."
Chairman Alan Beith said prison should be a "last resort."
The committee welcomed the big drop in child jailings since 2006 but raised concerns that children in care were lagging behind.
It urged councils, children's homes and prosecutors to draw up plans to make sure such children aren't just locked up for trivial incidents.
"We were shocked by evidence we heard that vulnerable children across the UK are effectively being abandoned by children's and social services," Mr Beith said.
Howard League for Penal Reform campaigns director Andrew Neilson said the system was "long past its use-by date" and let down children by focusing on punishment, failing to make the public safer.
"Almost three quarters of children released from custody going on to be reconvicted within 12 months," he said.
The MPs also said authorities must learn from the deaths of vulnerable youngsters in custody, and said it was worried by a rise last year in how often children were restrained.
Inquest co-director Deborah Coles said: "Failings in the system of looked-after children, high levels of restraint, self-harm and ultimately death are persistent features of the current youth justice system.
"We welcome this report and its recognition of the imperative need for effective learning and action from the deaths of young people in custody.
"The current investigation and inquest process is failing to ensure the scrutiny and accountability needed."