Playground? More like no-go ground: 49% of children never visit the areas

Safety concerns and anti-social behaviour are deterring parents from taking their children to play parks, new research has found.

Years ago, playgrounds used to be filled with the sounds of children’s laughter, ice cream vans and the squeaking of seesaws and swings. However, new research from leading playground equipment specialist ESP Play has revealed that this is no longer the case.

The study, which was published yesterday, found one in two UK children rarely or never visit the areas, with two out of five parents (44%) citing poor condition of the equipment as being the main reason for keeping their kids away.

Experts discovered safety concerns are the biggest barrier for more than a third (36%), while hygiene issues including excessive dog faeces is the top worry for more than a quarter (28%).

Shockingly, one in three children (32%) have suffered an accident or injury that their parents state was due to poor quality equipment.

Commenting on the findings, Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play, said: ‘We carried out this research to highlight how, as a nation, we are letting our children down by not giving them access to safe and enjoyable outdoor play spaces.

‘It’s alarming to discover HALF of all parents say that their children don’t go to a playground as well as the huge number of injuries from poor quality equipment.’

Four out of five people said that poor equipment, maintenance or safety concerns stopped their children from playing,’ Andrew said. ‘When playgrounds suffer from poor maintenance and safety hazards, we not only endanger children’s physical safety but also impede their social and emotional development.’

Andrew added: ‘Childhood is supposed to be fun and, by not giving our children the same opportunities we had, we risk damaging future generations.’

By contrast, within the study, 75% of parents said they played in parks at least once a week when they were their children’s age – 44% also revealed that their children play on their phones instead of going to the park, while 39% play video games instead of going outdoors.

These statistics are particularly concerning, as according to Professor Helen Dodd, child psychiatrist and trustee of Play England, claimed ‘Play is essential for a happy, healthy childhood.’

‘Having time and space to play gives children the opportunity to express themselves, to explore, to be physically active, to take risks and to have freedom to choose what they want to do,’ Professor Dodd said. ‘It is really important that children have access to good quality playgrounds.’

Currently, according to the findings, 49% of parents surveyed said they have witnessed drinking, smoking, or drug-taking happen in playgrounds, which puts them off wanting to take their children there.

In response to these findings, Andrew and 54% of parents are now calling on local authorities to be doing more to ensure playgrounds return to being a safe place for children to explore.

Images: Power Lai and ESP Play

More on this topic:

Children’s playground massacre: Parks in London to be replaced by social homes

Leeds’ biggest borough town to receive ‘once-in-a-generation investment’


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