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Olsen ,2 Ian Pike ,3 and David A. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license http: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. We explore the relationship between child development, play, and conceptions of risk taking with the aim of informing child injury prevention.
We outline the importance of play as a necessary ingredient for healthy child development and review the evidence for arguments supporting the need for outdoor risky play, including: Literature from many disciplines supports the notion that safety efforts should be balanced with opportunities for child development through outdoor risky play.
Introduction Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death and hospitalization for children worldwide, taking the lives of nearly a million children each year [ 1 ].
As deaths from communicable diseases are decreasing, injuries remain a leading cause of childhood mortality and morbidity and represent an increasingly significant public health burden [ 2 ]. The grim statistics that on average Canadian [ 3 ], over 12, American children [ 4 ] and 42, European children [ 5 ] ages 0—19 die every year from injuries make the need for injury prevention abundantly clear.
Like safety, play is deemed so critical to child development and their physical and mental health that it is included in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Eager and Little [ 6 ] describe a risk deprived child as more prone to problems such as obesity, mental health concerns, lack of independence, and a decrease in learning, perception and judgment skills, created when risk is removed from play and restrictions are too high.
Findings from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, landscape architecture and leisure studies, challenge the notion that child safety is paramount and that efforts to optimize child safety in all circumstances is the best approach for child development [ 78910 ].
|Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development||And the comments get more acerbic.|
Furthermore, parents, popular culture, the media, and researchers in other disciplines have expressed views that child safety efforts promote overprotection of children [ 911 ]. These have the potential to trigger a backlash against proven safety promotion strategies, such as child safety seats or necessary supervision [ 19 ], possibly reversing the significant gains that have been made in reducing child injuries [ 2021 ].
In this paper, we explore from an interdisciplinary, public health oriented perspective, the relationship between child development, play, and conceptions of risk taking relating to outdoor risky play. Our aim is to contribute to the discussion on whether the goal of unintentional physical injury prevention should be to keep children as safe as possible or as safe as necessary.
We conclude with recommendations for child play safety efforts based on key empirical and theoretical findings. What is Free Play? The study of play has been truly interdisciplinary, yielding research literature from nearly every field affecting human health and well being.
By definition, free play is intrinsically motivated and not provoked by instrumental goal-directed behaviour [ 23 ]. It is a goal in itself and lacks external rules and structure [ 23 ]. Thus, activities such as organized sports would not be considered free play. Three main types of free play have been well described in the literature: Risky play is subsumed within physical activity play and has been defined as thrilling and exciting and where there is a risk of physical injury [ 25 ].
Sandseter [ 26 ] further categorizes risky play into play involving:When I taught 8th grade, I used Wave as a way to study and play with metaphor. As my almost-freshmen made their way through their last days of grammar school, I held the picture book up and said, “Story time,” and they grinned nostalgically.
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