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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine