Children brought up 'in captivity' by risk averse parents, says leading child psychologist

Professor Tanya Byron says children no longer know how to fall over and dust themselves down to start playing again

Children today are being  brought up “in captivity” by their parents as a result of a risk averse approach to growing up, a leading child psychologist said today.

They no longer know how to fall over and dust themselves down to start playing again, former government adviser Professor Tanya Byron told a conference in Sheffield.

“We live in a risk averse culture and levels of paranoia about children’s wellbeing and safety are insane,” she added.

“There are no more predators on the streets, no more paedophiles around now than when I was growing up in the 1970’s .”

Yet parents no longer allowed their children to play outside because of fears they might be attacked or abused.

“Kids don’t know how to fall any more – they tense themselves up (and therefore suffer strains). – whereas we used to fall all the time and dust ourselves down and get on with it,” she added. Scabs, she said, were ”a badge of honour”.

As a result, growing numbers of children were being taken to accident and emergency centres with minor injuries.

In addition, schools would now debate whether pupils should play conkers or whether they should put goggles on if they did.  Snowballing was also considered a safety risk because there could be grit in the snow.

Parents also still drove them to school when they were aged 11 or 12.

“Most children spend most of their childhood being raised in captivity – they’re not free range any more,” she added. “They are hugely, hugely restricted.

“That sense of adventure , that sense of risk that you get – all those life risks that children need to develop into confident and capable human beings are being narrowed and narrowed.”

Professor Byron, who was speaking at the North of England education conference,  also said there was a “lack of awareness”  about how children learnt with schools reluctant to allow children to use technology in lessons. Items like mobile ‘phones were often confiscated before children got into the classroom.

“The only place they can be kids now is when they play online,” she added. “Yet if we really do believe that the only way forward for education is to take it back to the 1970’s we’re completely deluded ourselves and we’re letting children down.

“We’re not inspiring them and that I think is a great shame.”

Her comments come just weeks before the Government unveils its plans for reshaping the national curriculum which are expected to confirm a move towards a more traditional school timetable –  and a focus on preparing pupils for tests and examinations.

Exam results, she added, were the “least reliable indicator” of a pupil’s intelligence.

“There are some kids who are able to understand and learn and remember things better than others – but that does not necessarily mean they’re more intelligent.”

Many pupils were misbehaved because they were “bored” with the rigid and narrow approach to education.

“We are letting down children who are bright,” she added.  “This is a massive, massive problem.” Yet the Government’s answer seemed to be to introduce more tests and targets .

Earlier in the conference, Schools Minister Elizabeth Truss told delegates that the Government’s curriculum review would be published by the end of the month.

Pupils would be rewarded in maths if they showed the correct approach to working out long division even if they got the answers wrong, she added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick