Overprotected children 'need to learn about risk'
A generation of overprotected children need to be given greater freedom to learn about risk as they play, the health and safety regulator has said.
In a joint statement, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Play Safety Forum (PSF) said children need to do outdoor activities such as climbing and playing conkers in order to grasp the realities of the world.
It comes in response to a "significant loss in freedom" for children over the past 40 years and proposes a more balanced approach which accepts children will often be exposed to risk and even danger when they play.
Play providers should focus on "sensible adult judgements" rather than an overblown fear of litigation and prosecution, the statement says.
They should determine how children can benefit from challenging play while still making sure they are not exposed to unnecessary risk.
HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: "Health and safety laws are often wrongly cited as a reason to deny children opportunities, contributing to a cotton wool culture.
"I welcome this statement, which brings clarity and focus to what really matters when managing the risks associated with children's play.
"Whilst HSE's main focus is on health and safety in the workplace, it is clear that attitudes to risk are formed long before young people enter the world of work.
"Play outdoors teaches young people how to deal with risk and without this they are ill-equipped to deal with working life."
The HSE said previous research had shown a "shocking" half of children aged between seven and 12 are not allowed to climb a tree without an adult present and one in five children of the same age have been stopped from playing conkers because it is "too dangerous".
Robin Sutcliffe, chair of the Play Safety Forum, said the statement would help councils, schools and charities give children greater freedom to learn from adventurous play.
Life & Style blogs
Guest post by Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors
Plus lateral thinking and living on London's waterways
Other popular areas include Didsbury, Clifton in Bristol, central Cambridge and West Bridgford
Living with Google Glass: what are they actually like to wear?
Microsoft's Xbox One: Have the price (£399) and release date (30 November) been leaked by online retailer Zavvi?
Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life
The 10 Best road-trip gadgets
Google Glass: First images taken on Google's new glasses appear on Twitter
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.