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Let the children play says poll it helps them to know risk

Date posted
26 January 2024
Jeremy Waterfield
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

Quick online survey sees IOSH get firm view from safety and health professionals on children’s play and its importance to their understanding of risk.

MPs met on 24 January for a UK Parliament inquiry into how better planning, building and urban design in England could enhance the health and wellbeing of children and young people, while also benefitting the wider population.

With The Guardian reporting on the eve of the inquiry how charities were calling on government to prioritise outdoor spaces for play, IOSH shared the report on LinkedIn and asked site visitors the question: “Do you think the lack of play opportunities could be harming children’s ability to assess risk?”

Attracting well over 900 responses, 95% said ‘Yes’, with accompanying comments from occupational safety and health professionals showing clear support for the idea that outdoor play is crucial to children learning how to develop risk management skills.

Clear support

Here are just some of the comments that came in:

“Children learn most about themselves and the world around them through ‘rough and tumble’ play at a young age. A generation of kids engaging with others online and not in person will be a catastrophe for their overall development and future outcomes.”

“Yes, I agree there should be more opportunities for play. Children are natural born assessors, constantly and dynamically assessing their environment and surroundings.”

“Children’s games develop an inherent skill to assess risk. For example, when playing football, we have to simultaneously assess the risk of kicking players or getting kicked ourselves by others. This process goes on and a mind artful in risk assessment is developed over time.”

“Outdoors is where the world meets the theory and must be accessible to all young people.”

“Hazard and risk should be taught at school to prevent ignorance and ‘catastrophising’. Both are equally dangerous.”

“Too many children are wrapped in cotton wool with this having a knock-on effect on their confidence and their ability to risk-assess and make independent decisions well into adulthood.”

“I think children these days are over-protected due to the constant fear of legal action. We have a generation who are totally unaware of what they are able to achieve because they are scared of the world around them. It’s easy to blame the kids, but it’s not their fault; they grow up in the environment we provide them and develop accordingly.”

“Couldn’t agree more. Add to that those who want to actively use risk as a reason for not doing things and you have a perfect storm!”

On seeing the results of the poll, IOSH Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager Corey Edwards said: “Our members’ verdict has been clear: investment in play spaces would equip the children of today to become safer workers of tomorrow, enabling them to identify and address risks and prevent hazards.

“Local authorities should prioritise the creation of safe, child-friendly outdoor community spaces, and consider their inclusion throughout regeneration and housebuilding urban planning.”

What’s your view?

Get in touch with or media team and let us know what you think.

Last updated: 07 February 2024

Jeremy Waterfield

Job role
Content Officer


  • Strategy and influence

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