Kids need somewhere to play14/11/2007 News
Children are segregated out of our public spaces and excluded from the community itself, warns a study from Demo commissioned by Play England.
The study was based on investigations of public areas and interviews with children across England, finds public spaces that are actively antisocial to children and built around the convenience of the car and the shopping trip.
Published today, Seen and Heard: Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people recommends some radical changes, for example at 20mph speed limit where streets are shared with children and creating iconic play spaces at high profile locations. The report urges adults not to be so hung up on kids hanging around, underlining the importance of unstructured play and socialisation in growing up.
Co-author Celia Hannon from Demos said: ”With cars outnumbering children by three to one, the acceleration of house building, and the privatisation of public space, places once used by young people for playing and exploring rites of childhood are quickly being swallowed up.
“Unless young people are in structured activities or acting as mini consumers, we assume that they are causing trouble. Our streets, squares and parks need to be accessible and enjoyable for all, otherwise existing anxiety around anti-social behaviour will get worse. Its time to open up our towns and cities for all and make them more playful. Children should be seen and heard.”
Adrian Voce, Director of Play England, said: ”This report addresses one of the most serious challenges we face as a society: the disappearance of children and young people from public space. The consequence is a decline in their opportunities for play, recreation and their own social and cultural lives other than through electronic media or highly structured activities. Demos’s proposals, all intended to help reclaim young citizens’ rightful stake in the public realm, are welcome and demand a positive, robust and urgent response from all levels of government and from society at large.’
Play England wants the government to:
Appoint youth planners to â€˜youth proof’ development proposals and audit public places to identify areas in need of investment
Introduce an anti-social behaviour hotline so that young people can report adults who are threatening their right to be outside and in public spaces
Open up areas dominated by the car by introducing 20mph speed limits across residential streets
Create iconic play spaces at high profile locations to challenge expectations of where play can take place
Encourage innovation with neighbourhood play toolkits, local budgeting and by transferring assets to the community
Use â€˜intermediaries’ such as youth workers and teachers to solve conflicts between young people and adults
Arrange job swaps between architects, police, landscape designers and town centre managers so they understand how their work affects young people.