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Is it more difficult for children to play in the street than when you were young?

Eddie Mair | 12:07 UK time, Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Tonight in PM, John Sudworth reports from Bristol where street party legislation has been used to create safe places for children to play. You can read more here.


  • Comment number 1.

    Ahh......British Bulldog! About 10 of us all playing in the road in the 70s

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes, marbles in the gutters (it was in Australia and the gutters are dry - from memory quite clean too!), hopscotch, hide-and-seek, skipping rope, hoola-hooping, star-gazing at night, lying along the pavement staring up at Neil Armstrong when he walked on the moon. My eyesight was better then. *sigh*

  • Comment number 3.

    In Amsterdam in the 50's, the big girls would come out and turn a large rope for the others to jump in and out off. We also played 'kick the can' in the middle of the road. The lived one car-owner in our street. Not the road has to be 'one way' as cars are parked both sides.

  • Comment number 4.

    The street party legislation seems a great solution. I grew up in the boundaries of East London and Essex and from the age of 6 was allowed to play with friends in the local park (Valentines) I never recall any worrying incident although we did get in trouble with the park keepers. Luckily we didn't have to play in the streets, although these days by virtue of the increase in vehicles it must cause more of a hazard.

    Looking forward to hearing the report and the impact it has on traffic management.

  • Comment number 5.

    Being a country girl, living on the coast of South Devon, I used to go to the beach with a friend every day in the summer hols. We were both about 7. We used to walk down with our towels, bathers and a drink and sandwich and have a wonderful time jumping off rocks, climbing the cliffs and swimming. If we were lucky our parents would give us money for an ice cream and the bus fare back up the hill.
    I reckon they would be had up for child neglect today.

  • Comment number 6.

    I wasn't allowed on the street when I was young. I had to play in a field.

  • Comment number 7.

    Jonnie, a park? There's posh.

    di, that was delightfully nostalgic until the last sentence. :o)

    Mr. Horse, your parents were being sensible, there was grass in the field.

  • Comment number 8.

    Lady Sue, there sure was. High as kites we were sometimes!

  • Comment number 9.

    In the US in the 1950s there were fewer cars, and the streets were wider than in GB and we played in the street all the time. Even touch football (Murcan foorball).

  • Comment number 10.

    Maybe it's because Glasgow's one of the most park-ful cities in Europe, but the only times I remember being on the streets in the 70s was going between parks, playing fields and the "woods" - actually a thin strip of trees running along the wee burn.

  • Comment number 11.

    Play streets, YES. But also 15 mph limits in all seaside resort towns! Kids die when on serious streets.

  • Comment number 12.

    Re# LadySue - yes it was a beautiful park - and still is I believe - however it's also said that the song Itchycoo park - was (could have been) written on the bridge we played upon as kids which is cool for me! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itchycoo_Park

  • Comment number 13.

    Like the Horse, my brother and I used to play in a field at the end of our road. I remember in particular catching grasshoppers in a jar, taking them home for observation, then releasing them in our garden. We didn't play in the road, although there were very few cars, but had gardens, unlike urban kids. In London, there are some lovely parks, but there was a period when ball games, etc., were frowned upon, which 'kind of' defeated the object. We often go to Victoria Park when visiting friends nearby, which is a delight, though currently somewhat restricted due to the lead up to the Olympics.

    All children need to play, so I think the Bristol idea is a great one for areas where communal areas are scarce. I hope other cities adopt it as a blueprint.

  • Comment number 14.

    We didn't play on our street, as it was the main road (though main in rural northumberland was not busy). But played on the lane round the back. Hill long enough to get reasonable speed on the carts made from old fish boxes and pram wheels. Those were the days

  • Comment number 15.

    The kids round my neck of the woods are very lucky. A lot of the roads are cul-de-sacs, whith the houses back to back at the end. In between the fronts of the houses, there's grass and some trees, so in effect there's 4 or 5 little interconnected greens where they can play. Plus, the roads themselves only get slow traffic, as it's people parking up. The only down side is that the kids often leave their toys outside, so you can be caught unawares by a stealthy toy gun or scooter when you leave for work in the morning, but I don't begrudge them that. It's good that they've got that area to play in...

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    The kids round my neck of the woods dare not go out on the streets after seeing the police dogs on the attack last night (Sky News footage)

    This sort of gratuitous violence must be condemned.

    These are the Scarlet Ribbons riots. If you can't afford the goods that, you are told, make life good, how else but to grabbit and run.

    The streets are too dead for dreaming, the places where we live too cramped, too ugly. Some got refurbishments (how?), most not

    The criminal LibDemTory Coalition cuts impoverish us, stealing our holiday schools from us, as well as our parks, our sports centres, our basket ball courts.

  • Comment number 18.

    There are a lot of young children 'playing' in the streets of London and elsewhere late at night recently.

  • Comment number 19.

    The same thought had occurred to me, David. It would appear that their parents have little concern for them or their safety, let alone the rights of others.

  • Comment number 20.

    For My Family and Friends at BBC PM:

    Long time no see. In Miami, Florida, it is now difficult for children to play in the streets taking into account the heavy traffic compared to my childhood summers in the 1960's and 1970's.

    In the 1960's and 1970's Miami Florida was not big and children played in the streets many sports and even rode their bikes.

    Before leaving, I just want to tell you that England and the BBC [Including BBC PM and BBC Radio 4 are in my thoughts, heart, prayers, and soul].


  • Comment number 21.

    Some of our finest youngsters play on the streets with big sticks.

    Others ride bikes.


  • Comment number 22.

    Law caught me out thievin', took me down the nick
    The sergeant made out his report, and he layed it on real thick
    He said "I'll get your parents", I answered with a grin
    "Save yourself the trouble, mate, you'll never find 'em in"

    'Cause Dad's gone down the dogtrack, Mother's playin' bingo
    Me brothers are all layabouts, all alike by jingo
    No one seems to notice me, isn't it a sin
    What a crazy world we're livin' in
    Yeah, what a crazy world we're livin' in
    What a crazy world we're livin'
    Three, four, knock at the door
    What a crazy world we're livin' in (Klein, "What a Crazy World", 1963)

  • Comment number 23.

    RCA-G 20, I blame it on David Caruso.

  • Comment number 24.

    BS 19, Their parents want a plasma TV.

  • Comment number 25.

    The alley that connected the M4 to the school Hugh Grant went to, used to be called Dog Sh*t Alley, cos it was knee deep in the stuff. No cars were allowed so you could kick a football about there - if you could stand the smell and the ball didn't get bogged down in it
    There was broken milk bottle glass set in the cement at the top of the alley wall on the school side.

    The dog output goes elsewhere now. You can catch people with really big dogs pushing shopping trolleys to carry their output from where they leave it to the designated bins. These dogs can fill two or three.

    The glass is still there and cyclists still mow down the toddlers playing there.

  • Comment number 26.

    mac (17, 21, 25) Once again you seem to be on a different planet to everyone else. The people who have been rioting are not some idealistic class warriors rebelling against the system. They are thieves and criminals, pure and simple. They are attacking small and large businesses alike, from such "luminaires" as McDonalds, down to family run shops that are rooted in the community. By their actions, these rioters are showing, pure and simple, that they are out there to see what they can steal. If you admire them so much, post an invite for them to come round your house where they can take whatever they want from your own possessions.

  • Comment number 27.

    DTR 25, My grandmother in rural Pennsylvania lived near a Pig T*rd Alley.

  • Comment number 28.

    I could not help thinking how one is to deal with a city in which youths and maidens are well nurtured, and have nothing to do, and are not undergoing the excessive and servile toils which extinguish wantonness, and whose only cares during their whole life are sacrifices and festivals and dances. How, in such a state as this, will they abstain from desires which thrust many a man and woman into perdition; and from which reason, assuming the functions of law, commands them to abstain? The ordinances already made may possibly get the better of most of these desires; the prohibition of excessive wealth is a very considerable gain in the direction of temperance, and the whole education of our youth imposes a law of moderation on them; moreover, the eye of the rulers is required always to watch over the young, and never to lose sight of them. (Plato "The Laws" (Jowett trans.))

  • Comment number 29.

    Therefore, says Plato, unemployment, boredom, excessive shows of wealth, lack of vigilance and education without morality "thrust the young into perdition" and ruin the state.

    But I cannot for the life of me understand what has caused such disaffection with our noble institutions, with politicians, police, press and of course the financiers who kindly deign to make money out of us if more cannot be made from someone poorer.

  • Comment number 30.

    Interesting to note that Poundland has been hit disproportionately ... just shows that some people have no taste, no ambition ... if you were rebelling against the system, of course, you'd go for the police station, the town hall, the schools ... how many of those are burning in Leicester, Mac?

  • Comment number 31.

    Sid 30, We have Poundland and a 99p shop next to each other in St Albans. I use the 99p shop.

  • Comment number 32.

    Do be careful, Hugh etc, designated to report our streets. After the '81 Toxteth Riots, ITV sent a camera crew to make one of those World Inaction docs.
    They were in Canning Street, outside my house, street interviewing, when they were suddenly aware they were completely surrounded by youff. As if they'd been attacked by locusts, the crew were left with nothing but their underwear.
    Bits of heavy recording kit were on offer in the Toxteth pubs for weeks afterwards.

  • Comment number 33.

    DTR 32, They obviously weren't wearing the underwear advertised by David Beckham.

  • Comment number 34.

    David Cameron said of Andy Coulson, "I belive in giving a person a second chance". I suspect most of those kids on the rioting streets will never get a first chance. And I disagree with bringing back medieval feudalism as form of punishing the whole family by taking away their means of living and houses. Our society has been officially designated the most unequal in terms of wealth and opportunity in western Europe. But then when you have just seven percent of the privately educated occupying 60 percent of parliamentary seats (even worse in the Lords I shouldn't wonder) what do you expect? It seems rich mans greed is ok (the bankers, corporate bosses etc), spend a buck to make a buck mentality. Don't you think the uneducated and marginalised see this?

  • Comment number 35.

    fJd 34, Cameron also wanted to hug a hoodie.

  • Comment number 36.

    It will be very easy for kids to play in many streets; if RBS carry on in their privatatised, Diamond, fashion. Mum and dad will be looking for a machine whereby they can gain access to their own money.
    The streets will be clear.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hmmm...... been away for awhile. Something more important has been going on for me. As a couple of you know.

    I never played in the street as I grew up in a Hertfordshire village and we used to play over the fields. However, those fields are not as interesting nowadays as farming has changed.

    In the 50s we used to play football on a traditional pasture. We used to use a stand of thistles or nettles as one post and move dry cow pats with our feet to make a pile and that would be the other post. Soft pats were moved out of the way with sticks (we didn't go out of our way to handle the stuff). We never got E-coli and never heard of it. It would have been a haven for wild life and wild flowers and probably not ploughed for donkey's years but at the time to me and my brothers it was the "football medder".

    Then when I was 9 or 10, so about 1959 or 1960 the old farmer either pegged out or retired and a new farmer took over and he ploughed up the field. What seemed weird was that he replaced the pasture with "grass". They also divided up the field with barbed wire so that the cows could be let on different sections and eat fresh grass.

    During the 70s all the hedges were grubbed up and now there are huge fields with nothing but cereals and oilseed rape. So rural kids today don't have the fields to play in and the roads are too busy.

    There was no looting in Luton, so perhaps the ConDems could ask Bedfordshire police for advice and not go to the expense of bringing in an American.

  • Comment number 38.

    #34. funnyJoedunn

    Bullingdon Club members were known for their yob behaviour when they would trash resturants etc. Wasn't erm.... Cameron and Boris Johnson members?

    As they were toffs then their yob behaviour was just "youthful High Jinks" and not to be mentioned.
    "We are all in this together" remember


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