Health and safety concerns are restricting children’s school playtime

Health and safety concerns are restricting children’s school playtime 7 September 2010
A generation of “cotton wool” children are growing up without being exposed to risky play, experts have warned, as new research finds that parents are increasingly concerned about the health and safety culture in schools. In a survey of more than 2,000 parents of primary school children commissioned by Play England and the British Toy and Hobby Association, almost three-quarters said they felt schools were too concerned with health and safety during playtime. The survey found the average child got just 37 minutes of time to play in the school day. Two-thirds of parents told researchers they felt this was not enough.
Dr Amanda Gummer, a psychologist who advises the association, said: “‘Cotton wool’ children are growing up without having been given the opportunity to learn how to assess risks. Children have to have bumps and scrapes to teach them what’s safe and what’s not. Children who have all elements of danger removed from their lives grow up to think they are invincible. This doesn’t just affect the accidents they might have when riding a bike or exploring a river, but it has a knock-on effect in terms of drug culture and gang violence.” Society and schools have become increasingly risk-averse, according to Gummer. “Parents go nuts if their children get hurt at school,” she said. “Litigation is every headteacher’s worst nightmare.”