England ranked 7th for children working autonomously

Should children be allowed to play and do more without supervision? According to a new study by PSI (Policy Studies Institute) parents in England place more restrictions on their children than parents in other European countries.

This report looked at children aged from seven to 15, covering 16 countries: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Sweden.
England was ranked in seventh place behind countries such as Finland and Germany, with parents in all countries seeing traffic as the biggest danger. 

Finish parents seemed to be the least restrictive, with the majority allowing parents allowing their eight year olds to walk home from school, cross main roads and go out after dark.

Ben Shaw, director of Policy Studies Institute (PSI), said: “Allowing children the freedom to get about in their local area unaccompanied by adults has been found to be important for their health and physical, mental and social development. Yet we have found that children around the world have significant restrictions placed on their freedom to get about – to go to school, to visit friends, and get to places to play.

“Children’s freedom of movement has declined in recent decades and danger from traffic is the main reason parents give for not letting their children out by themselves. We are struck by how this significant danger and major restriction on children, is routinely accepted given the health and developmental benefits independent mobility has been shown to result in.”

“While restrictions on children’s freedom have increased, our research has looked at how this situation can be turned around. We have found some shining examples of cities such as Rotterdam and Vancouver which have been inspired to place children at the centre of their development, on the basis that if a city works for children it works for everyone.

“However, if the benefits of these approaches are to be enjoyed in the UK, the needs of children must be given much greater priority by decision makers working in the policy areas of planning, development and transport,” he said.

What do you think is the biggest barrier? Letting your child cross a main road? Letting them walk to and from school? Going out after dark? Finland, Sweden, Japan and Denmark all allow their children to go out after dark so for many it seems like this is the biggest barrier.

Want more information? Check out psi.org.uk for the full report

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