"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by Dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become."
- Steve Jobs

Monday, December 31, 2007

Children "should be allowed to play outside"

Parents must allow their children to play outdoors - even if it means they get hurt, a safety campaigner has said.

Research published last week by the Children's Society suggested that too many parents are refusing to let their children play by themselves outside in case they are injured.

It found 43 per cent of adults think children should not be allowed out with their friends until they are 14 or over.

But Peter Cornall, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, argues that when children scrape their knees or bump their heads, they learn how to avoid hurting themselves again in future.

"When children spend time in the great outdoors, getting muddy, getting wet, getting stung by nettles, they learn important lessons - what hurts, what is slippery, what you can trip over or fall from. We need to try to break down the perceived safety barriers to playing outside.


Good grief - why is this being reported like it's a "new thing", as if kids have never played outdoors before?? And why oh why do parents lock their kids up and never let them play outside anymore? Fear of paedos? Fear of them scratching their finger? Fear of them being sued by another parent if little Johnny bumps into another kid whilst bike riding?

Not letting kids outside to play until they are 14 is ridiculous - unless they are showing tendencies for hanging around on street corners drinking DIamond White and hassling Old Mavis down the road, in which case yes - lock them up at home....

I was lucky enough to grow up in the country, we spent our childhood biking up the leafy lanes and mostly playing in next doors farmyard - climbing up huge piles of grain, swinging off gates, climbing haystacks, playing tennis in the main yard.....it was ace. We fell over, bumped our heads, scraped our knees, got dirty hands, ran around, bounced into eachother on our spacehoppers, and came home at tea time red-faced, sweaty and glowing, with dirty hands and scraped elbows. Mum patched us up and didn't say a word (she used to put butter on my head whever I bumped it - never understood that one!)

One time on a bike ride I lost my balance and toppled sideways into the biggest patch of nettles ever, my screams were so loud a lady in a nearby cottage came out and took us all into her kitchen and smothered me with Anthisan cream. Mum was greatful for her help and still didn't stop me from playing outside.

As a result of being "allowed to play in dirt" as a kiddie, I think that it's contributed greatly to a robust immune system that luckily means I'm rarely ill. Kids today are sealed into double glazed houses where they breathe Glade not fresh air, and numerous other chemicals used to freshen the sofa/the carpet/the dishwasher/the dog/their trainers. What's wrong with opening the window?? A plethora of anti-bacterial this, that, and the other makes sure that not a scrap of bacteria is left alive in the house, and as a result when kids are exposed to it, their bodies shit themselves and wonder what the fuck to do. Asthma in kids has rocketed as "playing out" has fallen by the wayside in favour of vegitating in front of the telly and turning into a lard-based Playstation freak.

I guess living in the city won't help, where the farmyards and country lanes don't exist, and there is traffic and dodgy people around every corner. Even designated play areas are now under scrutiny by the Health and Safety people and the councils, who are afraid of being sued if little Timmy falls off the slide and messes his hair up, heaven forbid. What can be done to encourage safe "outside playtime" in built-up areas I don't know.

But for sure, parents need to kick their kids out into the garden, let them run around, get stung by nettles, and get their hands dirty. And also stop being so aggressive towards anything that could injure their little darlings. If Timmy falls off the slide it's because he was being clumsy, not because the slide was designed wrongly, or the council didn't provide 24 hour supervision. If Katie pricks her finger while playing near brambles, she will learn to be more careful next time. Leave the (anti-bacterial) cotton wool at home..........

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