The study, part of the ‘Good Childhood Inquiry’ conducted for the Children’s Society, surveyed 1,148 adults on their attitudes towards letting their children play unsupervised outdoors.
The results show that, although most of the adults questioned were allowed to play outside unsupervised from the age of 10, adults were increasingly anxious about the threats posed to their children. 22 per cent of respondents who were 60 or older believe that children should be at least 16 before being left alone to play.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society, 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.’
Professor Judith Dunn, chair of the Good Childhood Inquiry, said that society must consider how it can ‘support and encourage friendships’.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist June 2007