Boy in trap of mother's making

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Six-year-old Michael Day has already decided what he wants to buy his mother for Christmas. A garden, similar to one they had in their previous home.

Since his family moved three years ago to the Huntingdon Gardens estate in Halesowen, near Birmingham, his mother Diane says Michael "is never alone". There is nowhere for him to play outside, and Diane, a part-time care assistant, is so worried about danger on the estate, from strangers or from local children involved in crime, that she does not want him to play unsupervised. So, except for a weekly trip out, Michael has to spend his time in the family maisonette.

His schooling has suffered as a result. "He's being given extra work to do at home because when he gets to school he wants to play, he doesn't want to work.

"He hasn't had the skills to make a firm friend. He's outgoing but he's a bit overpowering and so children don't like him. He has become desperate to interact with other children to the point where he literally runs up to them in the park and grabs hold of them in an attempt to make friends. He's so keen he just scares them all off."

But Mrs Day does not know what else to do. "At home there's only room for Michael to play quiet games which he finds frustrating because he can't run off his energy... I find it a strain. He wants to play and so his stuff is out all over the place and it's really hard to keep things tidy," she said.

Her older children have also suffered. Ben is 18-years-old and 6ft 4in tall, but there are areas of the estate that he will not go to; 15-year- old Felicity is driven everywhere by her parents.

Mrs Day said: "They built a playground two years ago at the back of the estate and it's absolutely vandalised. I would not go that end of the estate myself with all the older children drinking and glue-sniffing. You don't want your children to see that."