More than half of children would like to play outside more often but cannot because parents fear strangers and paedophiles, research has found.
A survey of 1,000 children in the UK by the four national play agencies revealed 53 per cent of five- to 11-year-olds want to play out more than they do.
A parallel survey of 1,000 UK parents revealed 40 per cent say “stranger danger” and fear of paedophiles stop them letting their children play out.
Older children aged between 12 and 16 were happiest with the amount of time they could play outside, with 59 per cent saying they were content.
Children aged from five to seven reported the lowest rate of playing outside – less than four times a week – and 46 per cent spent this time in their garden.
The research was conducted by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland to mark Playday 2013, which is celebrated today (7 August).
The results are similar to a study published by the organisations last year, which found the greatest barrier to children playing outside was parents’ fear of strangers and traffic.
But this year’s results also provide the children’s perspective, demonstrating their awareness of their parents’ fears.
When asked what would encourage them to play outside, one child aged between five and seven who responded to the the survey said: “Nothing, it’s not safe. My garden is safe for my brother and I.”
Play England director Cath Prisk 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 a 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.”
A fifth of children also said a lack of dedicated community play space was to blame for their lack of freedom.
Family Action chief executive David Holmes said children were sending a clear message that communities needed to provide more play provision.
“Playing outside should be one of the joys of growing up whether play is on the street, in parks or in other play places,” he said.
“We need to ensure that space to play is available for all children including families living in urban areas and lower income families who do not have access to gardens.”
Playday began in the London Borough of Hackney 26 years ago as a way of publicising the importance of play to parents in the community
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