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 77.

    My 7 year old can't ride a bike and my 10 year old who can, doesn't:
    I live on the outskirts of a Kent village, the roads are 'B' roads and an awful lot of traffic uses them, including an ever increasing number of large lorries. Looking at how people drive on these roads, how could any parent let their child loose on them? Remember that traffic is far greater now than when we were kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Kids actually need to scrape their knee, get yelled at by a random old man for sitting on a wall and climbing trees as it helps them to prepare for the big wide world when they get older and makes them better able to deal with situations. I can't imagine playing an Xbox will provide them with the same start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I have no problem with letting my kids out to play.
    I always find that these "organised" play schemes etc. being discussed are just another thing to take money out of parents pockets and are usually aimed at such tight age groups that it then costs more to take my 3 kids to 3 different places at different times and they don't get to play with each other either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    It's the opposite where I live, only problem is to the kids, "playing outside" means throwing bricks at people's houses, ripping wing mirrors off people's cars and robbing things etc.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    School playgrounds exist in every community and are accessible to many but remain behind locked fences after school hours, during holidays etc. Schools should be at the heart of communities, open all the time and offering opportunities for all ages but particularly play opportunities for local children and teenagers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    The main problem is the media's sensationalist reporting of any crime involving children. A study a few years ago showed that crimes involving victims aged 12 and under received at least 5 times the media coverage of equivalent crimes involving adult victims. This makes people think crimes against children are more common than they actually are, making them over-protective towards their own kids.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Child pedestrian accidents are at their lowest - largely because children no longer play out. This is probably a good thing - but it is terrible that the car pushes children indoors through neighbours concerns for the safety of their parked car, the absence of friends out playing, and the derogatory comments from other parents who are concerned about child neglect!

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    66. Kate
    The other concern that many parents have is that if kids do engage in physical play and get hurt, parents will be subject to allegations of abuse

    That's always been true, though. When I was 7 (back in '69) I broke my arm while playing and my parents were quizzed over and over about how it happened. But it was discreet - maybe that's the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The other concern that many parents have is that if kids do engage in physical play and get hurt, parents will be subject to allegations of abuse when they seek medical treatment. At a parent workshop I attended through our primary school, this was given as the top reason for limiting physical play.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Actually if they could just find a way to stop it constantly bucketing it down with rain, I'm sure the kids would head straight out again. They all play outside in the lanes round our way - when the weather's fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Recently I took a group of 24 young children on a walk in a very small village. We were nearly run down by a post man who decided he could not wait for a couple of moments for us to pass him and pushed through with his van clipping a couple of the kids bags with his wing mirror.

    Adults need to be more responsible before kids are safe playing outside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Take your pick.....
    The quality of life for children in the UK has improved beyond all expectations.
    The quality of life for children in the UK is the same as as their parents experienced.
    Like the idea of quality of life.
    Provided..any ..Politician.,..can explain why..they do nothing to stop the ...
    people who would screw make a living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Reading some of the comments,it would appear everyone,would do anything ,to protect our younger generation.
    Which fails to explain why it is our younger generation,fighting in Afghanistan,Iraq etc.
    And the people who would like to protect them,are unable to do just that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.


    We played in the streets together, as there were almost no parked cars to damage, or hide children from view.

    I think, as you say, there were far more children and markedly fewer cars, which meant kids were able to take possession of many roads as play areas, by force of number.

    The age profile etc. of drivers was different too, as cars were relatively much more expensive then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I live in a very quite street full of Children and the Sad thing is they dont play outside it is like s ghost street you might see a neighbour maybe 1 time aweek it is the Summer Holidays and the kids should be playing out and making alot of noise but I hear and see nothing that is very sad. in my street you can hear a pin drop by day and night

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    28. the6ftmoose
    Health & Safety -saving a few lives while ruining countless others.

    NO NO NO! This has NOTHING whatever to do with "Health and Safety". Nowhere is there any legislation, guidance - anything - that suggests children shouldn't play outside.
    This is all down to irrational fear in parents hyped up by sensationalist media that suggests every other man is a child abuser

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Cont, by the time I was 8, I used to go to school with my sister on the bus who is 2 years younger, & all we had was a trial run with our parents.

    Speaking to younger people who were born in the 80's, they have never heard of play streets where traffic was still allowed but there were signs saying that children were at play, with no traffic calming measures in place!


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