Health and safety crackdown on playgrounds will breed phobias, say experts

Mon, 05/28/2012 - 12:01am
Last updated
5 months ago
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Health and safety in the UK is a notoriously touchy subject.

In a bid to prevent public injury and the resulting legal struggles, public areas have, over the last few decades, become increasingly and absurdly risk-free.

Children’s playgrounds are a prime example of health and safety gone mad, with a crackdown on high climbing frames and challenging activities (such as monkey-bars and rope-swings) in favour of rubberized concrete and low rubber slopes. Experts are beginning to question whether, in our attempts to keep our children safe, we are in fact depriving them of the basic life-lessons they need and raising a generation of individuals with psychological disorders.

We all have memories of skinning our knees on rough tarmac and knocking out a milk tooth or two falling from the climbing frame when we were children, but weren’t these mild injuries an important part of growing up? Experts believe children need elements of risk in day to day life in order to learn essential lessons, such as how to conquer fear and develop a sense of mastery.

Safety-first playgrounds eliminate this important sense of danger and adventure that, according to Professor David Ball of Middlesex University, can in some cases even increase the risk of more serious injury. He said: “If children and parents believe they are in an environment which is safer than it actually is, they will take more risks. An argument against softer surfacing is that children think it is safe, but because they don’t understand its properties, they overrate its performance.”

Childhood should be full of adventure, full of risk. By nature, children want to taste the unknown, they want to feel the sense of victory that comes from climbing a big tree or a craggy rock. Wrapping our children in cotton wool and plonking them in front of the telly is only depriving them of life. And what impact will this have on the future of Britain?

Research shows that the more fear and doubt we instil in our children, the more likely it is that they will grow up to develop phobias and psychopathological problems.

Are we rearing a generation of individuals who’ll eventually be too scared to venture outside before filling out a twenty-page risk assessment form?

Phobias are serious and debilitating. To find out more, and to discover how hypnotherapy may be able to help, please visit our Phobias page.


reasonable risk on playgrounds

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