No Kids Allowed: How Our Street Design Is Killing Play
Sarah Goodyear | The Atlantic | August 8, 2013 | link
Somehow, we find ourselves living in a world where children playing on the street are considered a nuisance, and where parents feel timid about letting their children outdoors.
More than a quarter of the 1,000 United Kingdom parents polled in a recent survey — 28 percent — said they feared letting their kids play outside because of “intolerant attitudes” displayed by their neighbors.
The survey was commissioned by a group called Playday, which encourages kids getting outside to have active fun around the UK. It revealed that significant numbers of parents were concerned about neighbors being disturbed by their children’s outdoor play. More than a third were worried neighbors would disapprove if children “made a noise outside”; 32 percent thought that ball games might offend. Twenty-eight percent thought that the folks in the neighborhood would disapprove of them if they let their kids play outdoors.
But fear of traffic was parents’ top reason for keeping their kids in the house, with 53 percent naming it as an issue. “Stranger danger,” or fear of abduction, was another concern. All these things are connected – the prevalence of cars, the distrust of strangers, the intolerance of normal childish behavior. And the Playday survey results gave some insight into the psychological vicious circle that keeps kids indoors in many neighborhoods around the world.
While 59 percent of parents polled said they felt more comfortable letting their kids play outside if there were other children doing the same, 25 percent said they thought that children “hanging out in groups” could be a problem for the neighbors. “Lack of community spirit” was cited as a barrier to children’s play by 23 percent of parents, yet at the same time, 41 percent felt that kids playing outdoors could improve community spirit. Read more…