Fear of intolerance 'stops children playing out'

girl playing out Many parents feared being judged by neighbours if they let their children play unsupervised outdoors

Related Stories

Fear of upsetting the neighbours is preventing many parents letting their children play out, a survey suggests.

More than a quarter (28%) of 1,000 UK parents questioned feared being judged by neighbours if they let their children play unsupervised outdoors.

Almost a third (32%) believed allowing their children to play ball games or make noise outdoors would cause problems with other residents.

The poll was released to mark Playday 2013, an annual campaign for play.

One Poll surveyed 1,000 children between five and 16 years old and 1,000 parents with children the same age.


Of the five-11-year-olds, 53% said they would like to play outside more, while 40% said they could do so as much as they liked.

Of all the children, 13% said adults where they lived tended to disapprove of them playing outside, while 10% said adults thought they were up to no good when they were with friends.

Of the adults, 53% thought traffic was a barrier to children playing out where they lived, 40% cited "stranger danger" as a concern and 28% said intolerant neighbours were a problem.

How much play is enough?

boy with scooter
  • Health professionals recommend children get at least one hour of aerobic activity a day
  • This should include a mix of moderate-intensity activities, where a child raises their heart rate and breaks into a sweat, and vigorous-intensity activities, where they are breathing hard and fast
  • As part of a child's 60 or more minutes, they should also do activities that strengthen their muscles and bones

Source: NHS Choices

A quarter of the adults felt a more friendly community and better relationships with neighbours would encourage young people to play outside more often.

A lack of dedicated community space was also cited as hampering children's opportunities to play, with 32% of the adults and a fifth of the children saying more spaces to play within their local community would get more children playing out.

The research suggests play has the power to bring communities together, with 40% of adults saying children playing out where they lived improved community spirit, and 45% saying it helped families get to know each other.

And 60% of parents said they would feel confident letting their children play in the street if others were playing out too.

Space and freedom

Cath Prisk, director of Play England, said: "It's up to all of us to turn around the creeping disappearance of children from our streets, parks and communities. We all have role - as families, neighbours, and friends.

"We can all do something to say we love kids playing outdoors, that we want to live in communities that actively welcome kids playing out.

"There always was and always will be some people who want to squash kids' fun - but there are far more that really want kids back outside playing, not stuck indoors, especially over the summer holidays."

Start Quote

Consensus is spreading - play, especially playing outdoors, makes sense”

End Quote Jacqueline O'Loughlin Play Board Northern Ireland

Jacqueline O'Loughlin, chief executive of Play Board Northern Ireland, said: "Consensus is spreading - play, especially playing outdoors, makes sense. It makes sense for families, society and the economy. Play is fundamental to our children's enjoyment of their childhood, it can't be taken for granted.

"All of us, from parents to planners, from neighbours to policy makers have our part to play in allowing and supporting children's play as it is vital for our children's health, learning, development and happiness."

Mike Greenaway, director of Play Wales, said: "We need to recognise the importance of providing children with time, space and freedom to play in their own way.

"We need to support them and recognise that for their health, wellbeing and long-term development children need playful places and opportunities to play outside."

Marguerite Hunter Blair, chief executive of Play Scotland, said: "As well as a celebration of children's right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children's lives.

"We know that children across the UK would like to play outdoors more than they already do, with more opportunities for a wide range of play opportunities wanted."

Playday - held annually on the first Wednesday in August - is run by Play England, Play Board Northern Ireland, Play Wales and Play Scotland and aims to raise awareness of children's right to play and the importance of play for their health, wellbeing and happiness.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    I work for a police force within the UK. I'm always amazed by the amount of calls we get during the summer holidays from members of the public regarding "nuisance youths". The majority of the time, these are just young children playing with friends and not actually causing a problems at all. I do feel sympathetic towards youths these days and I wish there was more of a community cohesion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Children are great but can get on your nerves.

    Just like adults.

    We have to try to get along. There are more and more of us and there is not enough money to go around to provide facilities for all of us, whatever our age.

    Lets just try and get along.

    Be sympathetic to noisy children, give them a break. Then perhaps you might just get back some of that niceness :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    I love to see and hear children playing outside but so few do so these days. I live id a small safe village but still see few children outside. They are welcome to play ball outside my garage. My children used to build dens in the woods and paddle in the brook. They also used to cycle to local farms and generally have fun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    The responses to this messageboard tells you exactly what the problem is. Everyone blames everyone else instead of working together. There is so much intolerance and so much lazyness where everyone expects everyone else to sort things out. Apparently its the parents, its the neighbours, its the councils, it's the kids. All pointing the finger at each other and nobody taking any responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Our neighbours thought I was overreacting when I complained about the children hitting my car with the football because my driveway posts were a convenient goal.
    When I pointed to the field behind their house I was told they don't want to play there.
    I just think the parents were too afraid to let them out of sight.


Comments 5 of 11


More Education & Family stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.