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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 04:10 GMT 05:10 UK
Young 'not allowed out to play'
Children play at an adventure playground
Many adults say their own childhood experiences were different
Many parents are denying their children the same freedom to go out unsupervised as they enjoyed, because of fears for youngsters' safety, a survey suggests.

Some 43% of 1,148 adults quizzed for the Children's Society said children should not be allowed out with friends until they were 14.

But most said they had been allowed out without supervision aged 10 or younger.

The charity said spending time with friends was fundamental to children's well-being and development.

The over-60s were the most cautious of the respondents, with 22% of them saying children should be aged over 16 before going out alone.

Nearly seven out of 10 (69%) of those asked said they were still in touch with at least one childhood friend.

Isolation warning

The survey was part of the charity's Good Childhood Inquiry - a series of reflections on childhood.

Experts told the inquiry of the importance of letting children have the freedom to play independently and make friends.

On the one hand we want freedom for our children but on the other we are becoming increasingly frightened to let them out
Bob Reitemeier
Children's Society

Being isolated from or bullied by other youngsters can lead to serious problems such as depression, aggression and anti-social and delinquent behaviour, they warned.

Children said having lots of friends and being able to spend time with them were central to having a good childhood.

Chief executive of the Children's Society Bob Reitemeier said: "Children have told us loud and clear that friendship matters and yet this is an area in which we appear to be failing them.

"As a society we are in a real quandary. On the one hand we want freedom for our children, but on the other we are becoming increasingly frightened to let them out."

He added: "If we go too far down the road of being over-protective and not allowing children to explore, to play, to be up with their peers, but also with children of other ages, then we may be influencing the way in which they look at society and social interaction later on."

Children's well-being

Teachers have expressed concern about the lack of play in the curriculum being taught to young people.

There are also fears youngsters face too much pressure from national tests.

Adrian Voce, from the Play England project, said it was unfair to blame parents as they only had their children's well-being at heart.

"Compared to the well-being derived from being out and about and socialising and growing and developing, weighed up against real threats to your child's safety - real or perceived threats - it's a no-brainer for parents," he said.

"They'd rather their child was short of a few friends and over-weight than dead on the road."

Parents explain why their children are not free to roam

Tests 'stopping children playing'
05 Apr 07 |  Education
Fears 'keep children indoors'
02 Aug 01 |  Education

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