Safety fears 'hinder outdoor play', says survey

Children and adult playing Playday 2012 will involve half a million children in around 500 events

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Fears over safety and traffic are preventing children playing outdoors, research for Play England suggests.

Almost half of parents (49%) said their children did not play outside because of fears about "stranger danger".

The survey of 1,000 parents found nearly a third (31%) said their child did not play outside the house because of fears of an accident or injury.

The poll was released to mark Playday 2012, an annual campaign day aimed at encouraging play.

The survey found almost half (43.6%) of today's parents believed their own children had less time to play than they did.

In a bid to boost play, community organisers across the UK are organising around 500 different events for half a million children and their families, focusing on the theme "Get out and Play".

How much play is enough?

Children playing

Source: BBC Health

The organisers, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales and PlayBoard Northern Ireland, have been running the campaign for 25 years.

The aim is to raise awareness of children's right to play and the importance of play for their health, wellbeing and happiness.

There is a particular focus this year on the benefits of outdoor play.

Cath Prisk, director of Play England, said: "Playing outside should be an everyday event for all children.

"If we want to foster the next generation of Olympians and sports stars, then we need children with confidence, who love being active and are confident in tackling challenges.

"If parents are too afraid to let their children play out... then we as a society need to address this fear.

"Whether that's a community, living in a cul-de-sac agreeing children will be playing out everyday, a street applying to the council to close the road for play regularly, or residents volunteering to help local play projects reach more children, we can all do our bit."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    51 Eddy from Waring

    Interesting point about different attitudes in the 50s/60s - if, indeed, it is true. I wonder if that in itself was a consequence of the fact that there were far more children out and about on the streets, and fewer cars, or if the less sophisticated nature of the vehicles made motorists feel less insulated/isolated from the world around them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I live in Strood Kent and there is one road junction near where I live where the kids play football and have done for the last 30 years at least. The older ones bring in the younger ones and pass the tradition on .
    I was brought up in Wales and we used to play all day until it was too dark to see anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    It's funny I was only discussing this very subject with a couple of my contemporaries very recently. I was born in 1958 and as a kid growing up in the 60's/early 70's we were always outside playing football, riding our bikes or generally getting up to some form of scullduggery. At this time of year in the summer holidays we would be outside from 9 to 9 only coming in for our tea in between time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I always encourage my kids to go out and play but it does not help when you have neighbours who do nothing but moan especially in the summer holidays. Oh there's a ball on my garden, you can't play there is all you hear. I think some of the older generation tend to forget that they have had the chance to grow up so let the kids grow up, play outside and stop moaning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    In Finland children make their own way to school from the age of 7 and are left to swim at a lake - with other children about - during the summer. The British are, surely, within the strict meaning of the term, paranoid about this. We must do better

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    For a similar population to the UK, Italy has only one seventh of the number of child pedestrian fatalities as we do.

    That might be because if a driver hits a child in a residential area in Italy, it is ALWAYS the driver's fault. They are expected to anticipate a child emerging unexpectedly in such areas.

    That's how people used to drive in the 1950s and 1960s, and need to again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Without taking appropriate risks children will not learn how to keep themselves safe. There are greater risks in the average kitchen than in an outdoor space. In outdoor spaces children can learn about themselves, each other, and the world about them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    The real problem with children playing in the streets (or anyone for that matter) is the attitude of drivers. In the area we live -- which is actually a cul-de-sac, drivers ignore the 30 limit as there is no chance of being caught and regularly come round the corners on the wrong side of the road... and god help you if you/a child/an animal is in their way!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    The only thing that hits the headlines faster than crime against children is when some psycho kills a load of people (but only if they happened to have some tangible connection to the internet)..... The more fear they can put into us, the more control they have over our lives and opinions.

    Things now are no different to 50 years ago, we just hear about it a lot more now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    My memories differ from the ideas expressed here. Children in my neighbourhood were allowed free play in in the garden or the garden of friends For bigger games we were taken to the park to use the swings seesaw and roundabout or play ballgames. Playing in the street was seen as a necessity for poor children who did not have gardens. On the other hand I travelled on my own to school across town

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Too many people on a small island, leading to too many cars, leading to fractured local communities who barely know one another as parents work all day far away, usually both of them. Every last patch of scrubby derelict land seized upon to build houses to keep the immigrants in. Green field, playing field, Public parks, all used to feed the housing and corporate greed. Childhood play, nowhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I still recall being abused by a woman who accused me of allowing my daughter to be 'too friendly'...

    ... all she had done is pass said woman a hand-towel in a public lavatory!

    It's this sort of mentality that makes many people timid about allowing their children to play out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    6. Monotone -
    "let your children play outside, but place yourself in the vicinity to keep an eye on them. That's what my parents used to do!"

    Mine too - but how much easier to sit with your kids all day on your super-size sofa watching TV in your PJ's and guzzling junk in the name of keeping them safe from the pedo's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    It's not an irrational fear, it is a nastier world that we have created. A world that eventually we probably won't be able to live in, how illogical is that! Capitalism was the best we could do ..... remember? I'm 42, when I was 7, I walked to primary school (just over a mile) and home, things have changed dramatically.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Of course people are scared to let their children out of there sight, every day its in the news about some convicted monster, or some child missing or some beast asking school girls into their car. When all you hear all the time is scare mongering from the media then naturally you will be scared.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    As an old `un I remember playing in the street until dark, then home we went.
    Also this "play" scheme is yet another PC event which "allows" kids to play.
    Children,born in Britain,are born with an "Inalienable right" to freedom.
    PC Governments have for over 20 years regulated away freedom not theirs to regulate.
    A fee country does not mean "free if the govt allows it via regulation"
    Remove PC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    i'm 19 years old and i grew up on a rough council estate in Wandsworth. At the age of about 8 onwards you would never see me indoors, I spent all day out with friends unsupervised, we got scraped knees, cuts, bruises and maybe annoyed a few neighbours by playing football, personally I think that's what a childhood should be. not becoming an expert on how to play xbox. and that's only 10 years ago!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    36. coastie61

    Pedestrians DO NOT have right of way as soon as they walk onto the road. If a pedestrian is already crossing a side road when a car approaches on the main road and wishes to turn onto the side road then the pedestrian has priority. A pedestrian cannot just step into the road and claim right of way whenever they want. The highway code focuses on keeping pedestrians out of the road!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    36 coastie61

    Having priority won't prevent a collision if the driver of the vehicle doesn't have time to take avoiding action. Even in the 1970s it was inadvisable to play in the street - or so I was told by the Green Cross Code Man, Jimmy Saville, Sergeant Badger (Tufty club) and various others.


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