‘Let Kids Play’, Says Family Violence Service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11 AUGUST 2008
‘Let Kids Play’, Says Family Violence Prevention Service
Jigsaw Family Services is urging Kiwi parents to let kids play – not follow the lead of their British counterparts in banning tree climbing and other adventurous activities.
New research by Play England, a British non-government organisation established to support access to promote play, found that more than half of United Kingdom children were not allowed to climb trees without adult supervision.
The research found that 70% of adults had enjoyed most of their adventures in natural outdoor environments, compared with only 29% of today’s children.
Jigsaw co-chief executive, Tau Huirama, said the figures might be different in New Zealand, but the issue was still relevant.
‘Of course safety is important, but so is play,’ he said. ‘When kids are playing they are learning how to get along with each other. They are happier, fitter, and also learning boundaries.’
While violence prevention services dealt with many people who had been neglected as children, they also often dealt with people who had been overprotected and over controlled. ‘They reach adulthood and can not cope and get into trouble – they have not learned to deal work responsibilities and set boundaries for themselves.’
Children of all ages should be looked after and nurtured, but they should also gain more independence as they get older.
‘It is a sad fact of life that many parents today do not feel safe letting their kids roam in the way they used to. But that does not mean today’s kids can not enjoy adventurous play outside – it just means we have to find some new ways to let that happen.’
Fears about safety could sometimes be misplaced. ‘Kids these days can spend a lot of time on computers and in front of screens, which is not always healthy and depending on who they are talking to online – it is not always safe either.’
He said local authorities could do more to encourage neighbourhood play in a safe environment, through simple changes such as building wider footpaths and making sure neighbourhoods had open space areas where kids could play.
‘Let’s build cities for kids and families, not cars.’
The Play England research is available at www.playengland.org.uk.