Page last updated at 00:12 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 01:12 UK

Over-cautious parents stop play

Young girl climbing tree
Half of the children polled said they were not allowed to climb trees

Children are being denied adventurous play because their parents are nervous about exposing them to risk, a new survey suggests.

The UK-wide poll, commissioned by Play England, found half of 7-12 year olds have been stopped from climbing trees.

It also showed 21% of those surveyed had been banned from playing conkers, and 17% were not allowed to play chase.

The ICM poll interviewed 1,030 children and young people aged 7-16, and 1,031 adults during July 2007.

Play England, which says it promotes free play opportunities, insists that parents "constantly wrapping children in cotton wool" can harm the children's development.

The poll found showed 51% of children aged 7-12 were not allowed to climb a tree without adult supervision, with 49% stopped from climbing trees altogether because it was considered too dangerous.

'Life skills'

According to the research, 70% of adults had their biggest childhood adventures outdoors among trees, rivers and woods, compared with only 29% of children today.

It found children's experiences of adventure are confined to designated areas such as playgrounds (56%), their homes (48%) or theme parks (44%).

Adrian Voce, director of Play England, which is part of the charity National Children's Bureau, said playing was "an essential part of growing up".

"Adventurous play both challenges and excites children and helps instil critical life skills," he said.

"Constantly wrapping children in cotton wool can leave them ill equipped to deal with stressful or challenging situations they might encounter later in life.

"Children both need and want to push their boundaries in order to explore their limits and develop their abilities."

The survey was carried out to mark Playday, the annual celebration of children's right to play, which is co-ordinated by Play England.

Hundreds of events will be taking place across the UK on Wednesday 6 August to celebrate Playday.

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