More than a quarter of adults (28 per cent) cited intolerant neighbours as a major barrier stopping children playing out where they live. The same proportion of parents fear being judged by neighbours if they let their children play unsupervised outdoors.
Almost a third (32 per cent) believe allowing their children to play ball games or make noise outdoors would cause problems with other residents.
‘It is hardly surprising that a quarter of adults (25 per cent) felt that a more friendly community and better relationships with neighbours would encourage young people to play outside more often.’
Some 40 per cent of adults said that children playing out where they live improves community spirit; and 45 per cent said that it helps families to get to know each other. It’s clear that reticence is self-reinforcing: 60 per cent of parents said they would feel confident to let their kids play out if others were playing too.
Play England and their partners are doing their best to crank up the action, but this is not a new issue and these figures illustrate the perversity of the British attitude towards young people. In interview on the Today programme this morning Cath Prisk, Director of Play England, alluded to the social costs of children not playing out. It needs a cultural shift in attitudes, which in turn requires a bit more effort from policy makers than we’ve yet seen.