CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY and WILL PLAY
It has long been accepted by a wide variety of cultures throughout the world that play is so vitally important to childrens all round growth; therefore to deny children the opportunity to play seriously impedes their social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional (SPICE) development.
Sadly and unfortunately, too many societies, whilst accepting that play is important, do little by way of creating the quality and appropriately considered quantity of play environments that children need if they are to express themselves comprehensively and naturally. Regrettably the adult world seems intent on restricting play opportunities wherever and whenever possible and this is supported through a wide number of factors which combine and contrive to prevent children from enjoying their right to play, particularly in areas where they live.
The following is just a short list of measures and issues which create serious barriers to free and natural play opportunities for today’s children.
Barriers to Play Opportunities
by Tony Chilton, Policy Adviser to Fair Play for Children
Parental and societal attitudes to play and safety in the outdoor environment and parents level of understanding of the value of play generally which particularly impacts on the quality of play experiences for children.
The pressures of an increasingly litigious culture emerging throughout the U.K. which "discourages" local authorities from providing exciting play areas, play schemes and staffed adventure playgrounds.
Adults reactions to play provision in local communities is often hostile, play being perceived as noisy, messy, boisterous, aggressive and a general nuisance.
The poor quality and limited number of dedicated and informal play spaces in residential areas
Society’s obsession with colonising space for adult use, particularly with regard to vehicle and travel convenience. Residential areas have progressively lost their function as play spaces in favour of vehicles.
The designer label culture and increasing pressures on children to achieve high performance levels, academically, physically and socially at the expense of free play time.
Social control mechanisms which increasingly have been put in place to either deter young people from using the outdoor environment for play, recreation and informal meeting space and for them, what are important social purposes.
Or to "guide" children and young people into adulterated and controllable provision perhaps conforming to a political, social and economic agenda, thus reducing the young person’s opportunity to "freely choose" their play experience.
High density housing lacking appropriate outdoor space for play and/or containing restrictive controls such as "no ball games" or "no games allowed" signs.
Attitudes to social status, cultural background, race, disability and economic circumstances will have an impact on access to and perspectives of play.
Inadequate funding sources and mechanisms, nationally, regionally and locally in order to support community play initiatives.
The leisure, recreational, sporting and social demands of adults are given a greater priority nationally and locally than the play needs of children.
Play has no readily or easily definable or measurable outcomes and is regarded as a diversionary activity to formal and pathological educational requirements.
No encouragement or incentive for local communities to become involved in neighbourhood play initiatives.
Absence of the recognition of the importance of play in other related strategies and agendas.
The lack of a national government strategic inter-departmental, cross-agency approach, supporting and enhancing local strategies. Without authoritative protection through legislation and nationally determined standards, local strategies lack political status.