community · environment · play · Social

Fear, Traffic Largest Inhibitors of Outdoor Play in UK

This makes me sad to see that fear is stopping a lot of kids from playing outdoors in the U.K. From the national organization Play England:

Traffic and a fear of strangers are preventing children from playing outdoors, new research released for Playday 2012 has found. Almost half (49%) of parents report that fear of strangers stops their children from playing out, while 46% say traffic and almost a third (31%) highlight fear of accident and injury as barriers to outdoor play.

The findings of the survey have been released today as an estimated half-a-million children and families nationwide celebrate Playday- the national day for play in the UK, held this year on Wednesday 1st August. Around 500 community events are taking place across the UK to celebrate 25 years of the campaign, which raises awareness about children’s right to play and the importance of play for children’s health, wellbeing and happiness.

The Playday 2012 theme isGet out and play! The campaign, which is co-ordinated by Play England (part of the National Children’s Bureau), Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland has gone from strength-to-strength since its conception in London in 1987, when the first events were held to raise awareness about the effects of cuts to local play services.

Cath Prisk, Director of Play England, said: “Simply playing outside should be a normal, 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 – because of fear of strangers, traffic or their children having accidents – 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 every day, 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 to make sure every day is a Playday.”

Mike Greenaway, Director of Play Wales, said: ‘… As a society we have developed an irrational fear that our children are unsafe outside. Compound this with the domination of cars and their drivers, and the world outside the front door doesn’t look particularly attractive for anyone who wants to play there … and children regularly tell us that outside is where they want to play. Children value time, quality places and freedom to play in their own way; we need to support them, recognise that for their wellbeing, they need to play outside and that it’s safer than we think.’

Read the full release.

I am glad, however, that the U.K. seems to be taking play more seriously than the U.S.; just the fact that they have a Play Day (August 1), is pretty cool. And the Quote from Mike Greenaway is as accurate for the U.S. as it is for the U.K.: serious crime has actually been decreasing since the early 1990s.

Thankfully where I grew up was pretty rural, so as long as we were within whistle-shot (my mom would blow a whistle rather than yell), we could roam as far and wide as we wanted. What rules did your parents have about playing outside? What rules do you have for kids you are in charge of (kids, nieces and nephews, neighbor kids, grandkids, etc.)? Leave a note in the comment below.

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