Kids Robbed of Fun? Experts Ask If Benign Playground Equipment Will Stunt Children's Risk Judgment

Article excerpt


RUSTY slides and swings made from iron and heavy timbers have become memories in a push towards safer playgrounds over the past 20 years. But experts are now asking if we have gone too far.

Risk rather than safety has become the buzz word as experts look at whether or not benign playground equipment stunts children's judgment and sense of fun.

Don Wark, managing director of playground company Play Worx, which has been involved in many important playground projects, including Pioneer Park at Landsborough, said discussions about the need to incorporate risk in play were increasing. An early-childhood specialist told a conference in Melbourne recently that some play equipment was too safe.

The specialist, Maureen Walsh, was reported as saying that she was concerned about children who did not learn to take calculated risks.

And Kidsafe Western Australia acknowledges on its website that research suggests a level of risk during play benefits children.

C[pounds sterling]Insufficient playground novelty and challenge can lead to inappropriate risk-taking and prevent children from developing decision-making skills needed to make accurate risk judgments,C[yen] the website says.

Mr Wark said a growing school of thought was that children needed an element of risk not only for fun, but also for the sake of their development. He said adults could be doing children a disservice by taking away any sense of adventure or challenge in a bid to injury-proof them.

C[pounds sterling]What we're beginning to see is that by wrapping kids up in cotton wool, we're not encouraging them to make their own decisions,C[yen] he said. …


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