Friday, 30 March 2012
Playing out is good for 'em.
A report by the National Trust highlights the decline in children "playing out" as we used to call it. The National Trust draw heavily on work done by Play England and come up with some alarming findings. Can it be true that more kids are taken to hospital as a result of falling out of bed than from falling out of trees? Has the "radius of activity", the area that kids roam about in, really declined by as much as 90% since the 1970s? Concerns about safety are cited as the main reason why kids are increasingly confined to their homes and I'm sure that this is true. Whether or not these concerns are justified is another matter. I think that in towns at least, roaming about tended to be an activity of the working class child with middle class families looking down on this freedom as being associated with "street urchins". This is a generalisation of course and in rural areas things may have been different again. My own kids played out and survived more or less unharmed. Of course the reality is that left to their own devices kids will frequently be a general pain in the arse to the adult world and I think that in the past this was held in check by a cohesion of the community that has long since all but disappeared. Truth is that last summer there were plenty of young people roaming about and having adventures but the adventures had little in common with anything dreamed up by Enid Blyton and I suspect were roundly condemned by the average National Trust Member.